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Twelve Phone Scams To Beware of During The Holiday Season

Phone Scam

Most people think they can spot an impostor.

However, according to an article in the November issue of AARP magazine, readers participated in a survey and the majority of those who took an “Impostor IQ” quiz failed.

(You can take the quiz at https://aarplocal.polldaddy.com/s/imposter-iq).

Unfortunately the scam artists tend to get busy during the holiday season when people are distracted and more vulnerable. The AARP article entitled, When a Con Man Calls, states that most people believe that frauds happen to other people. This is what, according to the article, experts call the ‘illusion of invulnerability’.

If anything, one needs to be more on-guard during the holidays.

Few companies, if any, call and threaten their customers in order to get them to pay bills. Yet, the scam artists pose as a variety of professionals and use this tactic successfully in at least a dozen impostor scams that are playing out across the country.

Never give any information to a stranger, whether they call, email you or knock on your door. Instead of singing The 12 Days of Christmas, remember to be alert to the 12 impostor scams.

Here they are slightly edited from the AARP article:

  1. The first is the jury duty manager: In this scam, the person says something like, “Hi, I’m calling from the courthouse and you missed jury duty. Pay $400 or go to prison.”
  2. The puppy breeder, goes like this: “As a dog lover you should know we just got a beautiful litter of purebred golden retriever puppies. Just $200 each!”
  3. The utility company: This one is very popular at the moment. The con artist calls and says, “We will be shutting off your power, ie…electricity, gas, heat, in 24 hours if you don’t pay the past-due amount on your bill immediately.”
  4. The government clerk calls, saying, “You have unclaimed property with our state. Simply pay this fee and we will release it to you.”
  5. The ticket seller says, “as an affiliate of a major ticket vendor, we can get you seats for your dream concert for a discount, if you act quickly.
  6. The bank verifier: The person says, “There’s a data problem with your checking account. Please verify this information so we can confirm things and fix the error.” This one is very tricky. Remember banks don’t call to verify your information.
  7. The big-winner announcer says, “I’m from the Canadian lottery and you have $1 million! Pay the import tax and fee and we’ll send you your winnings.” You may not remember that you haven’t been to Canada!
  8. The doctor representative has this to say, “Research shows conclusively that these new capsules will stop your disease in its tracks.
  9. The police or fire department gets their victims with, “We’re raising money for officers or firefighters injured in the line of duty. How much will you be donating today?”
  10. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – this is a big one because most people are terrified of getting in trouble with the IRS. Caller says, “You owe taxes and are at grave risk of large fines or jail time if you do not settle this situation immediately.
  11. The long-distance lover, if you’ve been chatting with someone on line, you need to be extra cautious because your newfound love might call with this message, “In these weeks of chatting, I’ve fallen so in love with you. Send money for a plane ticket and oh, the magic will happen!”
  12. The military rep is one I find particularly heinous. “I’m from the Veterans Administration,” says the caller, “and you are entitled as an ex-soldier to benefits from this program. I just need to know…all of your personal information.”

The most important thing to remember is that no legitimate business and certainly no government agencies are going to call and demand money. Wish them a happy holiday and hang up on them immediately. Then report them if they are representing the utility company, the IRS or your bank.

Stay safe and have a healthy, happy holiday.