What are New York Phone Scams?
These are fraudulent activities perpetrated on New York residents by scammers running their cons over the phone. Phone scams, like every other type of scams in the State of New York, are handled by the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) as well as certified fraud examiners. Fraudsters trick their targets into parting with their hard-earned money. New Yorkers who believe that they have fallen victim to phone scams and inundated with spam calls are enjoined to complete and submit the consumer complaint form provided by the DCP. Phone lookup services are efficient in uncovering scammers’ real identities.
The Office of the New York State Attorney General identifies the following common phone and online scams in the state:
- Voice Phishing Scams: where fraudsters impersonate actual businesses in a bid to trick unsuspecting victims into divulging sensitive personal or financial information like passwords, credit card information, and social security numbers.
- Spyware Scams: where fraudsters deploy spyware programs to steal vital information on their victims’ computers and mobile devices. Spyware comes in different forms including intrusive online ads such as pop-up ads, web browser add-ons, and third-party search toolbars.
- Unwanted Text Message (SMS) Spams: where scammers send unwanted spam messages in a bid to convince their victims to part with their personal and financial information. Such messages come from illegitimate businesses offering rewards or prizes, and requesting the phone users to claim or redeem prices by signing up, paying certain fees, and/or providing sensitive information.
- Nigerian Advance Fee Scam popularly called ‘419’: where fraudsters pose as Nigerian government officials or legitimate business persons requesting bank information and other sensitive financial data as part of a grand scheme to defraud their targets.
Other popular phone scams include:
- Fee loan scams
- Charity scams
- Door-to-door fraud
- Employment scams
- Fraudulent anti-aging or health products
- Health insurance fraud
- Home improvement scams
- Home loan modification and mortgage scams
- Investment fraud
- Scams targeting the military and seniors
- ‘Secret’ shopper scams
- Sweepstake/lottery scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Work-at-home scams
- Tech support scams
- IRS scams
- Emergency scams
What are New York IRS Scams?
New York IRS scams are launched by fraudsters who request immediate repayment of owed taxes from their victims. These scammers spoof IRS phone numbers so their calls show up on the victims’ caller IDs as legitimate IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) numbers. They then proceed to threaten charges against non-compliant taxpayers. The IRS has consistently advised that taxpayers should not get swayed when they receive calls from supposed IRS employees, irrespective of whether the number has been verified as legitimate or otherwise. Taxpayers must note that the agency does not require that they submit card details, and do not threaten legal and law enforcement actions by phone. Reverse phone number search can help return such callers’ information.
The IRS also warns of a fraudulent email sent to companies supposedly from the IRS as tax transcripts. Such emails hide a malware called Emotet that attacks computers and business networks and can take up to six months to remove completely. Hence, calls or emails from supposed IRS agents requesting that taxes be paid should be deemed scams and reported to the Treasury Inspector General and the IRS.
What are New York Emergency Scams?
New York Emergency scam targets families, the elderly, and senior citizens. It is often referenced by other terms such as ‘Grandparents scam’ or ‘Family scam’. Emergency phone scams have been reported repeatedly to the New York State Police by families who have alleged that scammers claimed to be family members in distress and in dire need of financial assistance. Oftentimes, the scammer claims that the amount demanded is meant to secure bail or offset legal fees.
The New York Police Department advises against the urge to act immediately when contacted by a supposed loved one asking for money to get out of an emergency. Ask questions only a close family member would know to confirm the identity of the caller. Contact another family member to confirm the claims made by the caller before sending financial help. Victims of Emergency scams should contact the New York Office of the Attorney General and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
New York Voice Phishing Scams
Voice phishing calls are placed by fraudsters to unsuspecting victims with the intention to trick them into divulging sensitive financial and personal details. The Office of the New York State Attorney General describes ‘phishing’ as a tactic involving scammers impersonating legitimate businesses (banks, government agencies, etc.). The purpose is to obtain valuable information, such as social security numbers, passwords, and credit card information, from unsuspecting victims. Scammers usually combine voice phishing with caller ID spoofing to increase their chances of success.
To avoid falling victim to voice phishing scams, the Attorney General advises New Yorkers not to give out financial or personal information when responding to unsolicited calls and emails. Inspect emails for signs consistent with phishing and review your credit card transactions and bank statements regularly. Make sure to install and regularly update antivirus programs on your computers. Report voice phishing attacks to the Fraud Complaint Center or send a complaint email.
New York Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are fraudulent activities perpetrated by persons posing or claiming to offer technical support service. Reverse phone number search can help reveal the identities of such persons. Usually, they claim to represent a reputable tech company like Microsoft. In most cases, scammers posing as certified tech support agents place calls or send email notifications requesting unsuspecting persons to grant them remote access to their gadgets. They request access under the pretense of helping to get rid of viruses or fix other software issues on their victims’ computers.
When they gain access to these machines, scammers may install malware on them, lock their victims out with ransomware, and steal sensitive financial or personal information such as saved passwords, credit card pins, and card numbers. When contacted by a strange caller claiming to be tech support, use reverse phone number lookup to verify their identity.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Do not completely trust your phone’s caller I.D, as scammers have devised means to spoof caller ID information for fraudulent purposes. Rather, report all suspicious phone calls and SMS message spams to the Division of Consumer Protection and proceed to fill the consumer complaint form.
- Be wary of divulging sensitive personal or financial information such as credit or debit card details, PINs, and passwords over the phone to anyone regardless of who they claim to be.
- Know that it is not standard practice for banks and government agencies to request login details and other sensitive personal or financial details via SMS, phone call, and email. Hence, any company or government official requesting account information or threatening legal or disciplinary actions for non-compliance is likely a scammer.
- Use reverse phone number services to verify and clear doubts about the authenticity of a phone number and who it is registered to. It is possible to search a phone number on designated search engines to see if they have been previously reported in connection to a scam.
- When contacted via robocall, hang up the phone as soon as you recognize the call for what it is. If you answered the phone, do not follow the prompts provided to speak to a customer representative or agent. These calls are often illegal, and the advertised products or services are unavailable or misrepresented.
- Be wary of free trial offers. It is customary for companies to offer free trial offers to potential customers to try out their goods or services. If you submit your credit card details while signing up for the free trial offer, make sure to review the company’s cancellation policy to determine that you can easily cancel your subscription after the trial period.
- Get regular updates on current trends in phone scams by keeping in touch with consumer information on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website or sign up for free email alerts from the FTC email service.