By Brianna Tucker—
Jeffery Tucker of Joshua fell victim to a phone scam early February. He got a call from people claiming they work for Microsoft Windows, a popular computer company.
Approximately one in 10 American adults lose money to phone scams— a total of $7.4 billion dollars in a year, according to Consumer Reports.
The scammers told Tucker that Windows owed him a refund and they needed his information to wire the money back into his account. He didn’t realize that something was off until after he gave them his information to his computer and bank account.
“They started telling me that if I did not go to Best Buy right now and buy two $300 gift cards that they would clear my account,” Tucker said.
Tucker called the police and went to Best Buy to buy the gift cards after his bank account showed to be empty from the scammers taking his money. Luckily, Tucker’s bank account still had the money. Tucker shut his account down, disabling anyone from withdrawing money. In the end, the scammers ended up with nothing.
This is an example of a classic scam that scammers use. Scammers pretend that they are a reliable company and trick people into believing they are receiving a refund. In a situation like this, experts from USA.gov say to have suspicion when told to wire a portion of funds from a check back to a company and be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.
Experts also say not to give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes. Clicking on links in an email to verify your bank account or accepting a check that includes an overpayment are also signs to watch out for.
Another local victim, Andrea Cooper, got scammed by impostors saying that AT&T is doing some updates and they needed her to send them her pin so that her service would not be interrupted.
“They proceeded to change the address on my account and add a user, but I stayed one step ahead of them,” Cooper said.
The scammer kept trying to change her password and tried to buy the iPhone X at an AT&T store and Best Buy. Since Cooper kept calling AT&T and changing her password, the scammer was denied at both stores and finally gave up.
Millennials are more vulnerable to being scammed. Men between the ages of 18-34 represent 38 percent of all phone scam victims and millennial women account for 17 percent.
The largest and fastest-growing scam is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam. This scam involves getting calls about nonpayment of taxes and threats of getting arrested from a scammer pretending to work for the IRS.
However, there are things you can do to prevent being a victim of a phone scam, according to USA.Gov.
Individuals can register their number with the National Do Not Call Registry by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you are still receiving calls after, then it is a good chance the calls are scams. Be wary of callers claiming that you’ve won a prize or vacation. Do not provide your credit card number, bank account information or other information to a caller. Do not send money if the caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
For more information on what you can do to prevent being a victim of phone scamming, go to www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds