What to do if you think a call might be a scam

Scammer organizations are placing more calls than ever before. In a single day, one call center alone can place hundreds of thousands of robocalls. So how can you tell what is a scam and what’s real?

Identifying that a call is a scam

One of the main tactics that scammers use to get you to talk to them is to play alarming messages when you answer your phone or in your voicemail. They might say they’re from Microsoft, the IRS, your local power company, or any number of other organizations. The best way to figure out if a call is legitimate is to stop, slow down, and think about how one of these organizations might actually contact you. Here are a few pointers;

  • Government entities normally contact you by mail before they try to call
  • Microsoft will not call you unless you contact them first
  • Companies like Amazon will not call you to confirm orders, and they definitely do not share what items were ordered or how much they cost in a voicemail

Many times, it’s actually very easy to see right through the lies of a scammer. Try asking a few questions that should be very easy for them to answer and you will see them struggle.

  • Where is your office located?
  • What time is it there?
  • How’s the weather?
  • What’s it like working for xxxx?

If you can, use your computer to research a few things about where they claim to be from. Most of the time, they will not be able to answer any questions correctly about where they pretend to be.

Most of the time, if you feel that a call is even slightly suspicious, it probably is.

The surefire way to identify a scam and to keep yourself protected is to wait until they get to the end of their spiel. If someone claiming to be from Amazon, the IRS, Microsoft, or any other organization asks you to “Press the Windows Key and R”, to download any programs (no matter what they say the program does), to buy gift cards, or to log into your online banking, they are absolutely a scam.

End the call and keep them from calling back

Once you’ve decided that the caller is not who they say they are, hanging up is the easiest part. Just be mindful they will try to say anything to keep you on the line (and sometimes get very angry and yell!). If you want to keep them from calling again, try saying very clearly “I know you are a scammer. Do not call me again!”. Once they realize that their tricks won’t work, they’ll typically mark on their lists that you’ve figured it out, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s over.

Scammer organizations often share their call lists with other scammers, so they may try calling you again with a different message.