Ask Karen Gibbs

Veteran business correspondent Karen Gibbs answers your personal money questions and addresses current topics that affect YOUR finances on a daily basis. Karen is the financial expert in your corner--no question is too basic or too small. Karen boils down the issues simply: here's what you need to know, and here's what you need to do. Send your money questions to AskKaren@mpt.org and post your comments below.

17

October

What You Need To Know About Phone Scams

Karen Gibbs

phone scamHi Karen, I just received a phone call with my phone number as the caller ID.   What gives?
    Stephanie, Pikesville

Stephanie, it seems crooks never take a break, but they do take advantage of technology which allows them to run scams on the unsuspecting.

This time it’s a new twist on an old trick; trying to get you to fall for something familiar and drop your guard.   Since many people use caller ID to screen out unwanted calls, crooks will disguise the number to look like a number you know – sometimes even your own – in the hope that you’ll answer and give out your private information.

If you do answer the call and hear an automated voice, hang up.  Don’t engage in any conversation; don’t follow any prompts to press any keys.  Technology has evolved so rapidly that your number and pass codes can be compromised.

If a friend or relative’s number has been compromised, the caller may assume their identity in an attempt to get you to send money or divulge credit card numbers to help them in an “emergency”.  The Better Business Bureau ranks “emergency scams” such as “I’ve been mugged”, “I’ve lost my wallet and have no money” or “I’m in the hospital and need money now” as one of the top five scams used by crooks.

Never give out any personal financial information via phone calls you didn’t initiate.  Never give out personal information unless you have carefully investigated the person or company requesting that information and verified that it is a legitimate request.   Do not succumb to high pressure tactics or heavy-handed threats.

Remember the old adage; “if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true”.   Just hang up the phone or, better yet: don’t answer it at all.

Karen

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