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3 viral phone scams
© Prudencio Alvarez |
Security & privacy

3 phone scams spreading now you should know about

Most cybercriminals are stealthy when scamming people out of money. They might send mass emails with malicious links or attachments and wait for victims to enter their banking details or personal information.

More aggressive thieves reach for the phone. They devise elaborate schemes to trick you into handing over personal information, account credentials or banking details. The worst part is that you often don’t realize it’s a scam until it’s too late.

Now a few phone scams are making the rounds that are super tricky to spot. Keep reading to find out how they work and what to do if you receive one of these dangerous calls.

1. Jury duty scam

While some people revel in the opportunity of being part of court proceedings, most dread the call for jury duty. You never know what case you’ll be involved with, and if it turns out to be a high-profile one, you might be stuck there for weeks.

You can face a stiff fine if you don’t show up for jury duty, which also forms the basis of a phone scam. According to Florida police, several people recently received calls that they missed jury duty and needed to pay a fine. Scammers then instructed them to pay a fine in gift cards, which is a dead giveaway.

“The Clerk & Comptroller’s office will never initiate contact with a resident unprompted. A summons for jury duty always comes by mail, not by phone or email,” explains the clerk of the Manatee County Court.

What to do: If you get a call that you must pay a fine for missing jury duty, hang up the phone and block the number.

2. Police department’s number on the caller ID

Getting a phone call from the local police department can be scary. Your mind will automatically jump to a worst-case scenario where somebody is hurt or in danger. But police warn everyone to be cautious when the caller ID says it’s the police department.

The calls are reportedly connected to an officer wanting to speak about a warrant. But it’s just part of an elaborate scheme to rip you off.

“The phone number displayed on the caller ID did show the police department’s phone number. However, residents were being asked to call a different number back,” the Bridgeport police department posted on Facebook. There’s speculation that scammers ask for money to absolve the warrant or to pay a fine.

What to do: If you receive an unsolicited call from the police, don’t answer the phone. Instead, look up a non-emergency number for the police department and call it to see if they were trying to get ahold of you and why.

3. Impersonating police officer scam

In another phone scam involving police, the Santa Clara Police Department in California warns that someone was impersonating one of its lieutenants. Victims claim the caller leaves a voice message requesting them to phone back.

When they do, the scammer asks for personal information such as name, date of birth, Social Security number, credit card numbers and bank account information. Yikes!

What to do: Never give out personal information to anyone over the phone, even if they claim to be from the local police department. Instead, go to the station and provide only the necessary data. If you get a voicemail described by Santa Clara police, delete the message and block the number.

Keep reading

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