How to Recognize Phone Scams

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Phone scams are a seemingly easy way for dishonest people to get money from unsuspecting consumers. The scammers are interested in learning your personal information, such as your Social Security number and your birthday. They will also try to get your financial information, such as your bank account or credit card number. Knowing how to recognize a phone scam will help you protect your money and your identity.

Be wary of any solicitation call from an unidentified number. Phone scammers will want to remain anonymous. If a number does show up on your caller identification, wait until after the phone stops ringing and call the number back if you want to know what the call was regarding. If the number is not available when you call back, chances are good that the call was from a phone scammer.

Pay close attention to what the caller is saying. By law, solicitors have to tell you that the call is a sales call, the company they represent and the product they are trying to sell. They have to do this prior to making a sales pitch. Any person who fails to do this is probably part of a phone scam operation.

Listen to the caller's voice. People involved in a phone scam operation will talk very fast. If you have to ask the caller to repeat things often because he is talking too fast, the call is probably a scam.

Ask for a call-back number and mailing address to send your payment to if the caller is selling something that you are interested in purchasing. Phone scammers will give you incorrect information or try to pressure you into making the purchase immediately.

Know that legitimate companies will be happy to have your business, even if you choose to mail in a money order for the product or service. If the person calling is part of a phone scam operation, she will want you to pay over the phone.


  • Never verify your account or financial information over the phone. Phone scammers only need you to say "OK" or something to that effect to claim that you authorized the charges.

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  • Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Getty Images