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What to Know About Suspicious Callers

May 16, 2016

051616_1In my last blog, I shared some tips and things to watch for when it comes to suspicious or phishing emails. Unfortunately, there are other ways identity thieves are trying to get your information, and sometimes even your money. Scammers also like to call potential victims, using tricky tactics to coerce people into giving away private information and swindle them out of their hard earned cash. It may seem like a simple thing to avoid, but these callers are smart and have learned ways to get people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. If you know what to listen for, however, you have a better chance at stopping suspicious callers in their tracks.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to never give out personal information to someone you don’t know. In the case of phone calls, unless you have made the call yourself to a number you know to be correct, if someone asks for your Social Security number or bank information, don’t give it to them. If you get a call that leads to someone asking for your information, a great way to determine if the caller is with a legitimate company is to ask for a number you can call back. If they are not really with the company they say they are, often they will hang up, knowing they have been caught.  If you do get a number, look it up before calling back to see if it is legitimate.

051616_2Identity thieves and fraudulent callers will often call with an urgent message, attempting to stress you into doing something you wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. This is because when we are under stress, we can have a harder time separating our emotions from our thinking. This is a trigger that suspicious callers try to release.

Common claims made by scammers when calling include stating you have won a prize but there is shipping or tax to be paid before you can get it, or they are from the IRS, claiming you owe money or have a refund due. In both of these scenarios, if they were true, you would get a letter in the mail. If you don’t recognize the contest you “just won”, chances are you never entered it and it doesn’t exist. The IRS has a policy of never calling to discuss taxes. You will receive official documentation in paper form if there is any true correspondence with the IRS. There have been some instances where callers have claimed that as the IRS, they are sending a subpoena to you for back taxes and  that you will be going to jail. Do not let this scare you, it is not how the IRS operates.

051616_3Other popular claims involve your computer and mobile devices. Suspicious callers will claim to be from an anti-virus company or Microsoft, telling you your computer has been hacked, and they need to remotely access your computer. Do not let anyone do this. I have heard of callers stating they are from “Microsoft Windows computers support”; however this is not a true statement as Microsoft doesn’t make computers. Why would a company say they are support for a product they don’t make? This is a great example of how subtle these thieves and scammers are.

Suspicious callers are very good at trying to scare people, often threatening them with locking down their computer, freezing accounts, or even possible jail time if they don’t give them what they want. No legitimate customer service provider or professional would treat a customer this way. If you get a suspicious call, or if someone becomes rude or aggressive with you on the phone, your best course of action is to hang up and report the caller to the Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP or visit www.ftc.gov/complaint.

It is important to keep yourself, your family, and your information protected. Keep these red flags in mind when you get a call from someone you don’t know, and you will have a better chance at beating them at their game. When you are ready to buy or sell a home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

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