Phone scams have evolved far beyond simple impersonation tactics. Thieves now use advanced AI voice-cloning technology to call you and beg for help in your loved ones’ voices. They’ll trick you into thinking the most important people in your life are in grave danger, and only your money can save them.
Read on for ways to outfox these dangerous schemes.
We’ll help you avoid these scary phone call scams
You know what they say: The best defense is a good offense. Scammers won’t be able to trick you if they can’t reach you in the first place. Tap or click here for the best ways to block scam calls.
However, nothing is entirely foolproof. Some scammers could still slip through the cracks even if you follow those steps. If they do, you’ll want to know how to avoid this fraud.
This trending scam puts a new spin on an old trick. According to the FCC, crooks have been using family emergency schemes for years. They’ve tried to trick you over texts and emails, pretending your grandson or best friend is in jail and needs bail money. Now they’re taking that trick further by calling and shouting for help in panicked tones.
It’s scarily easy for scammers to trick you with AI voice-cloning technology
💔 Scammers will try to tug your heartstrings by sounding just like the people you love and begging for help.
✍️ It’s easy to do: They can use popular AI tools like ChatGPT or Microsoft’s Vall-E, which can turn text into audio.
🗣️ But they’ll also use lesser-known tools like Resemble AI and ElevenLabs to turn their scam scripts into spoken sounds.
🚨 Scammers just need a short recording of their target’s words, so be careful when you upload voice clips online. 🚨 A criminal only needs three seconds of your voice talking to replicate it accurately.
👇 If you want to learn how to prevent fraud, scroll down for digital self-defense tips. However, if you want to learn more about how social engineering phone scams work, check out our in-depth guide to voice impersonation scams.
Use this clever trick to thwart phone scammers
First, you should follow this three-step fraud defense strategy whenever you get a panicked call from a loved one:
- When you get a panicked call from a loved one, end the call as soon as you can.
- Then, call their phone number and ask if they’re really in danger. They’ll probably say they’re fine and there’s nothing to worry about.
- But if you can’t get a hold of them, reach out to another family member or friend to make sure they’re OK.
Here’s a genius way to outsmart the thieves. Create a unique codeword only you and your family know about. This clever trick comes from Berkeley digital forensics professor Hany Farid’s interview with CBS MoneyWatch. We’ll explain how it works in a few simple steps.
- If you get a suspicious call from your spouse, ask them to say the code word. If they can’t say it, hang up.
- But if you think a scammer may have figured it out, you can change this strategy by mispronouncing the word.
- Therefore, if the scammer correctly pronounces the word, you’ll know it isn’t your spouse. You can then report the number to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Tech tip: Always keep your ears perked for pleas for money. Be especially wary if the person calling you asks you to wire money, buy gift cards, send cryptocurrency or share your credit card details. Someone asking for gift cards over the phone is a sure giveaway that it’s a scam.
Check this list – Phones vulnerable to a new no-click hack