Scam of the day – April 7, 2012 – Rise in telephone scams

Despite the focus of scams on the internet, scams over the telephone are having a resurgence, particularly among older Americans.  It is important to remember that even if you have listed your phone on the federal Do Not Call List to prevent telemarketers from contacting you, scammers don’t pay much attention to the Do Not Call List.  Common phone scams involve phony contests or lotteries or solicitations from phony charities.  It is also important to remember that legitimate charities are allowed to call you even if you are on the Do Not Call List.  Many people have been scammed out of money or become the victims of identity theft by giving scammers personal financial or identifying information on the phone.


Never give personal information on the phone to someone who calls you.  You can never be sure they are legitimate even if you have caller ID.  As for contests, it is difficult enough to win a contest that you have entered.  It is impossible to win one that you have not entered .  If you get a call from anyone that purports to be a legitimate organization with which you do business, such as a bank, don’t give the caller any information, but rather call the real institution at a telephone number that you know is accurate if you have any questions.

900 Numbers

We all know that 800 telephone numbers represent toll free calls, but you should be equally aware that a telephone number that starts with 900 is a pay per call.  Scammers will call you and leave a message to call them in regard to a contest you have won or any other ruse to get you to return the call.  Once they have you on the line, they do everything possible to prolong the call and increase the charges on your phone bill.  Some scammers will have you call an 800 number, but then have you press the number 9 to verify your phone number without realizing that you have just transferred the call to a 900 number.


Consider having your phone service provider block access to 900 numbers from your phone.   The FTC regulates 900 numbers and requires that you be asked at the start of the call to pay with a credit card or to make billing arrangements at that time.  If you have been scammed by a 900 number charge that appears on your phone bill, call your phone provider as tell them to remove the charge from your bill.