Everyone loves a deal, especially online shoppers. Thankfully, search engines, apps, websites, and browsers make it easy. Among other things, we use them to compare prices, find working coupon codes, and get notifications when must-have deals come up. But did you know that you can also save money if you check a phone number before answering? Find out why here.
Phone number scammers prey on our basic needs
One of the downsides of living in a 24/7, globally-connected world is that there is no place to hide from crooks, hackers, and other rogues. These criminals exploit technical and legal loopholes to try and get us to part with our money, using clever psychological tricks.
They prey on our insecurities and fears, using:
· Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO)
FOMO is where a person or company creates a desire to act because the risk of losing out is greater than doing nothing. It’s what keeps you coming back to social media sites, checking app notifications, and making sure you always carry your phone with you.
Scammers exploit FOMO by making fake calls or sending text messages with limited-time deals, so-called promotions, and other tricks to encourage you to act now.
· the threat of legal consequences
Some spam callers claim to be from law enforcement, the government, healthcare providers, debt collectors, and other authorities. Their messages can be intimidating, especially to the naïve, very young, or elderly. They often make demands for money to settle debts, failing which charges or prosecution will follow.
· the risk and inconvenience of losing essential services
Others spoof legitimate numbers from utility companies, phone service carriers, and internet providers, threatening to cut off essential services if they are not paid immediately.
· family emergencies
In this phone scam, fake callers claim to call on behalf of a family member or, in the grandparent scam, to be their grandchildren. They say they desperately need help to pay rent or settle a debt with a bailiff, among other things.
How to fight back
Knowing all this helps to adopt a cautious approach. Thinking that every potential call or text message could be a scam will help you avoid losing your hard-earned cash. You can also take steps like:
- registering for the Do Not Call service (in the USA), Telephone Preference Service (in the UK), or their equivalent in other countries. These are designed to limit calls from legitimate telephone marketers who must work within the law
- checking a phone number online before answering
- keeping your phone contacts up to date with number changes and adding new contacts when you first come across them. That way you know who is calling quickly
- setting up, and using, your phone’s voicemail so that genuine callers can leave messages. It helps if you leave a custom message and empty your inbox regularly, so it does not fill up.
Unfortunately, many people who fail to do these easy things fall prey to scammers and lose money. Don’t join them.