It seems every day, we receive another report about a new phishing scam. Scammers are creative and persuasive individuals who can access their victims’ personal information in a variety of ways.
One of the more common scams involves scammers cold calling victims with a story about legal woes, be they criminal or civil. We’ve heard reports about scammers posing as police, lawyers, government officials or collections agencies claiming some sort of legal action unless a fine or debt is paid. Of course, the caller says, this can all be cleared up if you just provide your name, social security number, birth date, bank account number or other private information.
The most recent variation we’ve seen has the scammer calling to inform the victim of a missed jury summons. The caller claims there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest because he or she has missed the scheduled court date, then goes on to ask for the victim’s personal information in order to clear the warrant from the government’s system.
The scammers may be very kind and polite, insisting that this is all a mistake, or they might be intimidating and pushy in an attempt to scare you into giving them the information. They do not often allow the victim time to think or confirm the information before threatening legal action or jail.
If you get a phone call claiming a debt or crime you don’t remember, always take the time to go “off the call” and contact the entity directly using contact information you independently verified. Despite false urgency a caller might try to instill, any legitimate agency will allow you time to verify the charges and none will ask for your personal information over the phone.
Never wire money to someone calling you on the phone. Official entities or debt collectors will always have another means of payment, and if they insist you wire money it is always a scam. Also refrain from giving bank account or credit card information to callers.
BBB urges you to be smart with your personal information and constantly vigilant about scams. While some identity theft may be difficult to identify and prevent, many times you have more control than you think.