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Scam alert! This fake phone call is very convincing

Criminals have been upping their game recently by incorporating more advanced technology into scams. With a few inexpensive and easy-to-get tools, they are able to spoof websites, emails and even phone numbers to try and land new victims.

One recent example is a new type of identity fraud that tricks victims into thinking they’ve received a two-factor authentication text from their bank. Tap or click here to read all about it.

The skullduggery doesn’t stop there. Now, crooks are ripping people off with a clever new phone scam.

Latest phone scam making the rounds

A new fraud advisory was just released by the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. Marshals and FBI are warning the public about several nationwide imposter scams that are making the rounds.

Here’s what’s happening. Criminals are calling people and pretending to be either U.S. marshals, court officers or other law enforcement officials. During the call, the impostor tells their intended victim there has been an arrest warrant issued because they failed to report for jury duty or another believable offense.

Then, the scammers tell their targets they can avoid being arrested by paying a fine. They ask for a prepaid debit card or gift card and have their victims read the card number over the phone. Sometimes they direct victims to deposit cash into a Bitcoin ATM.

Related: What you need to know about a big spike in government scam calls

The scammers are extremely convincing, too. They provide information like law enforcement badge numbers, names of police officers and federal judges. Sometimes they even spoof their phone number so Caller ID says the call is coming from a government agency or court.

But don’t fall for this, it’s a scam! The good news is there are ways to know when you’re getting a scam call. Keep reading to find out how.

How to outsmart imposter scams

Receiving a phone call that makes you think you’re about to be arrested is frightening and can cause victims to mistakenly shell out money to make the situation go away. Don’t let this happen to you.

Related: 3 reasons robocalls won’t stop (and what to do about them)

Here are a few suggestions from the FBI on how to avoid falling victim:

  • U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card or gift card numbers, wire transfers, bank routing numbers or to make Bitcoin deposits for any purpose.
  • Never divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
  • If you think you’ve received a scam call, report it to your local FBI office and file a complaint with the FTC.
  • You can remain anonymous when you file a report if you’d like.
  • Authenticate calls like this by calling the clerk of the court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area and verify the court order given by the caller.

This is all good advice. The main thing to remember is criminals have the technology to easily spoof phone numbers now, so it’s always a good idea to look up official numbers and call them directly if you have any questions. Don’t let a spoofed caller ID be your downfall.

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