Have you received phone calls from strangers claiming to be from government departments like Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, or Customs and Border Protection?
They might be scammers, so beware! They become more creative and convincing. Not knowing what you should do if you've been scammed can result in huge damage, such as compromised identity and lost money.
We looked at the recent cases of ID theft scam calls. Scammers' tactics become more sophisticated as technology evolves, so it's important to know the current scams to watch out for. We also gathered the best tips from security organizations and experts.
Read until the end and know the most telling sign of an identity theft scam call. We also share the red flags of scam calls, so you can recognize them and avoid being the victim of ID theft.
What should you do if you've been scammed over the phone?
Most people don’t have any idea what to do after being scammed. It’s a time filled with anxiety because you unknowingly gave a scammer your information.
We’re here to help, so we compiled what you should do if you’ve been scammed.
1. Change your pa sswords and set up two-factor authentication
We recommend changing your passwords immediately because scammers may have access to your other accounts.
If they managed to hack your email, and you have the same password for some social media accounts and mobile banking apps, it would be easy for them to open them.
What makes a strong password?
- At least 12 characters long
- Includes letters, numbers, and symbols
- Different for each account
- No patterns, such as “abcd” or “1234”
- Memorable but not personal information
But even if you have different passcodes for your accounts, it’s still helpful to change them. For example, they can request a password reset if they have access to your email.
So aside from a unique password, you can also set up two-factor authentication. It alerts you when someone tries to hack your account.
2. Freeze your credit reports
Scammers want your personal information so they can perform fraudulent acts, such as applying for loans or opening new financial accounts under your name. Once they know your Social Security Number (SSN), they can commit loan fraud.
Fortunately, there’s one way to stop them.
You can freeze your credit to prevent creditors and lenders from reviewing your reports. Usually, they won’t approve loans or new credit cards if they can’t access your credit history. As a result, fraudsters can’t use your identity to open new credit lines.
You can read our previous article should you need to place a security freeze on your credit report.
3. File an identity theft report
If you give scammers your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to file a report.
- Click “Get Started.”
- Choose the statement regarding your situation. It may involve a tax scam, unemployment insurance, another type of identity theft, data breach, or something else.
- Select the lost or stolen personal information: SSN, online login or password, card details, bank account information, or child’s personal information.
- Answer the FTC’s questions correctly.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will create a personal recovery plan and assist you through every step.
You can also get an identity theft affidavit from the agency to prove to banks and credit unions that someone may use your personal information.
4. Contact your bank, money transfer app, or wire transfer company
“I've been scammed out of money. What should I do?”
It will help if you have an affidavit that you can present to financial institutions.
If you paid a scammer with a debit or credit card, contact the issuer and ask them to reverse the transaction. But if the fraudster used your bank account to make an unauthorized transfer, call your bank immediately and tell them about the incident.
Scammers may also ask you to send a wire transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram. If that’s the case, contact them immediately and request your money back.
- MoneyGram: 1-800-926-9400
- Western Union: 1-800-448-1492
5. Contact your service provider
Scammers may also take control of your phone number. If it happens, call your service provider as soon as possible.
You can refer to the list below for their contact numbers.
- T-Mobile: 1-800-937-8997
- Verizon: 1-800-837-4966
- Mint Mobile: 1-800-683-7392
- AT&T: 1-800-331-0500
You might think that fraudsters can’t do much with your number, but they can actually impersonate you and collect your sensitive information.
6. Reach out to the police
“Can I report a scammer to the police?” Yes, it would help in the investigation process if you file a police report.
- Call or visit your local police department.
- Provide information about the incident, including the scammer’s phone number and the sound of their voice.
- Present proof, such as phone call history, bank statements, collection notices, and credit card charges.
Time is crucial when it comes to identity theft, so it would help if you already know what to do.
What are the latest phone scams?
One way to avoid identity thieves is to know the recent phone call scams they carry out.
1. Imposter scams
Fraudsters may pretend to be a government employee to collect your personal information. They may also claim to be a distant family member to know your name, home address, and email address.
The most telling sign of an identity theft scam call is someone randomly calling you about Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes, your car loan, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) car registration, etc. It’s time to hang up the phone, especially if the caller reads back your SSN to you and requests more private information.
2. Debt relief scams
Fraudsters may also offer to fix your credit or lower your interest rates. But first, you need to pay a high service fee. Instead of saving money, you can end up losing your savings.
3. Investment scams
Have you received a call or text message claiming you can earn thousands of dollars without risk? It’s the standard format of business scams.
Don’t send them money because they’ll block you after receiving it. You won’t receive any income, and you’ll even lose your investment.
4. Charity scams
Scammers will do everything to deceive you—they may even pose as charities. So if a stranger asks for donations, always check the organization’s background.
You can visit the following websites to perform a background check:
5. Lottery scams
Here’s how it works: you’ll receive a message saying you’ve won a prize. But before you can claim the money, you must pay registration fees, taxes, or shipping costs.
Unfortunately, there’s no prize because they only used it to deceive you into sending money and providing your personal information.
Take note of these new scam calls to protect yourself from identity theft.
What to do if a scammer calls you?
You can report the phone number as a scammer to the FTC. Call 1-877-382-4357 to inform the agency about the incident. Provide the phone number and other essential details that may lead them to the scammer.
You can also report unwanted calls and robocalls to the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Visit the website, then click “Report unwanted calls.”
- Give your phone number, the date you received the call, and details about the conversation.
- Follow the prompts on the website.
Aside from these steps, it’s also crucial to do the things we mentioned earlier to protect your phone number.
How to stop scammers from calling?
They’ll do everything to reach you, but you can still do something to let them know you’re not an easy target.
Don’t hesitate to hang up if you get an unsolicited call and the stranger asks for your personal and financial information. They can be aggressive and even threaten you, so it would be best to cut the conversation immediately.
Turn on call blocking
Sometimes, scammers can still call you even though your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can add another defense—activate call blocking on your phone.
Every device has different instructions regarding call blocking, but you can usually find it on the “Call Settings” menu.
Be one step ahead of identity theft scam calls
It’s dangerous once scammers access your information, but you can still recover your identity. Make sure to change your passwords, place a security freeze on your credit file, report the incident to the FTC, contact your bank and service provider, and file a police report.
Do these things immediately to stop scammers from further ruining your financial and personal life.