Those robocalls that you get every night aren’t just annoying, they can also be very costly if the call is part of a sneaky scam.
A Harris Poll found 11% of American adults reported they lost money to a telephone scam last year. And according to that survey, 27 million Americans lost $7.4 billion to phone scams, with the average loss of $274 per victim.
Top 10 phone scams to look out for
To learn more about this issue, Pindrop Labs analyzed more than 100,000 calls, many of them robocalls. In addition to quick money, they found scammers are often trying to obtain personal information to steal your identity.
Curious about the most common phone scams? Take a look at the results from Pindrop and read on for more details:
1. Google / business listing scams
The most popular phone scam targets small business owners. Callers are told there’s a problem with their Google business listing and that it can be resolved for a fee. The scammers are usually trying to get credit card information. Phony “search consultants” for Yahoo and Bing have been known to target businesses as well.
2. Loan scams
These robocalls either offer to help lower interest rates or threaten that loans are past due. Scammers will often use information acquired from legitimate online loan applications to fool victims.
3. “Free” vacations
In this scam, callers tell victims that they’ve been selected to receive a free vacation. But what they’re really after is your credit card information. The fraudsters will claim they need your credit card to pay for “tax” or additional fees.
4. Political calls
The analysis found that scams are often tied to current events, so be wary of any political calls before the November election. The scammers may ask for donations or pry for personal information.
5. Local maps verification
This robocall asks for sensitive personal information after telling consumers that their local business has been flagged by online maps verification. The information obtained can be used to take control of accounts.
6. Lower your electricity bill
The promise of a lower monthly electricity bill leads some people to give up their personal information. The bad guys claim to be from your electric company, and they say the offer is "now or never" or "limited time."
7. Important personal business
This scam seems vague, but the caller will say they have an urgent message concerning "important personal business." The victim is then instructed to press 1 to hear the message. Pindrop Labs researchers think it's actually a fake debt collection scam.
8. Credit card scams
Due to many shutdowns by the FTC, the analysis found credit card scams are falling in popularity. The scammers claim they can help you pay off your credit card debt faster, but it's just a trap. The callers will try to confirm personal and financial information, which they can use to steal your identity.
9. Free home security system
In the scam, victims are offered a "free" security system that comes along with hefty administrative fees. The scammers will convince people to give up their credit card information, which can result in identity theft.
Read more: Top 10 consumer complaints in America
10. Elderly scams
Senior citizens are frequently targeted by fraudsters. The scammers will call about things like Medicare, anti-aging products and cemetery plots. Their goal, like the other scams, is to obtain personal information. In the case of seniors, they're often targeted because they may have a lot of money in their accounts or retirement funds.
What to do if you get a call from a scammer
- Hang up the phone immediately! If you aren't sure whether the claim is legitimate, hang up and call the company or agency directly.
- If you receive a phone call from an unknown number, don't call it back without researching the number. It could be a scam!
- File a complaint with the FTC. If you think you might have been a victim of a phone scam, file a complaint with the FTC online or call 877-382-4357.
Read more: Beware of the one ring scam on your phone