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Hang Up! The Top 5 Telephone Scams
Criminals don't always wear a mask. Some criminals have trusting, soothing voices. They call you on the phone. And blatantly steal your money before you realize what's happened. The Better Business Bureau has identified the five most common scams committed on the phone. If you receive any of these calls, hang up immediately. Don't be a victim!

Beware! Find out how creative con artists target hotel guests to steal their money or identity using these three credit card scams.

1. Tax Scam
The caller, who says he is with the Internal Revenue Service, informs you that you owe money in back taxes and will be arrested if you do not pay. The caller ID number is fake and appears to be from Washington, D.C.

2. Debt Collection Scam
You receive a phone call from someone claiming that you have an unpaid debt. You are threatened with garnishments, lawsuits and even jail time if you don't pay now.

3. Sweepstakes/Prizes/Gifts Scam
The caller congratulates you for winning a prize in a sweepstakes, but to receive your prize, you must send money to cover the expenses associated with the delivery, processing or insurance of the prize. Guess what? There is no prize.

4. Tech Support Scam
A "technician" calls, claiming to have detected a virus or security threat on your computer. But don't worry! For a fee, he can log in to your PC and correct the problem remotely. Not only will this hacker steal the money you pay in the fee, but also gain access to your private passwords and other information on your computer.

5. Credit Card Scam
The scammer, who pretends to be from your bank or credit card issuer, claims you are eligible for a lower interest rate. In another variation on the scam, he tells you he wants to verify a recent credit card transaction. In both cases, the scammer asks you to provide your credit card number and security code for verification.

How can you protect yourself from telephone scams? Barbara Parrott McGinity, program director for the BBB Education Foundation, offers these tips:

  • Stop answering every phone call you receive. Instead, screen your calls.

  • Do not respond to pressure tactics.

  • Never provide your personal information to strangers who call you on the phone.

  • Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you do not know or have not met in person.

Someone wants to steal your income tax refund. If you receive this phone call, hang up!

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