How do telephone scams work?


Quick Answer

Telephone scams typically work by scammers making special offers, pressuring consumers to act quickly to take advantage of the offers and then obtaining the consumers' personal financial information, reports the Federal Trade Commission. Other scammers pretend to be IRS agents and threaten taxpayers, states the Internal Revenue Service.

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Full Answer

Telephone scammers call consumers and offer them prizes, lottery winnings, investment opportunities, requests for charitable contributions or easy credit or loans, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Scammers emphasize that consumers must act quickly or lose the offer and pressure consumers to give up their credit card or bank account information to redeem the offer, close the deal or pay shipping or handling charges. In the IRS telephone scam, callers claiming to be IRS agents warn that consumers owe tax money, threaten them with arrest and insist on immediate payment via wire transfer or debit card, explains the IRS.

When consumers receive phone calls they suspect may be scams, they should resist pressure to decide quickly, refuse to give or verify any personal or financial information and insist on obtaining information on the offer in writing, advises the Federal Trade Commission. They should also independently research any offers or investments before taking action. Additionally, to avoid telemarketing fraud, consumers should buy only from companies they are familiar with, check out unknown companies with consumer protection agencies and pay for goods and services only after delivery, warns the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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