What are Texas Phone Scams?
Texas phone scams are deceptive practices intended to steal money and personal information from Texans using phone services. Phone scammers employ live calls, spam calls, robocalls, and text messages to extort residents and often mask their identities when doing so. Phone lookup applications can help uncover the true identities of scam callers.
The Texas Attorney General’s office (TAG) has taken the lead on mail fraud, fax fraud, phone scam awareness for the citizens of Texas. There are currently 11 prominent types of phone scams affecting Texans. Those who believe they have been targeted by phone scams can file complaints with the TAG. A phone scam starts with convincing the call receiver that the person on the other end of the line is trustworthy.
Common phones scams in Texas include:
- Charity scam, where the scammer masquerades as a charity organization
- Business or investment scam, where the scammer presents bogus business or investment offers
- Debt relief or credit repair scam, where the scammer offers to lower credit card interest rates or student loan forgiveness for a fee
- Imposter scam, where the scammer pretends to be someone else the receiver trusts
- Car warranty scam, where the scammer attempts to sell overpriced and useless car insurance
- Travel or timeshare scam, where the scammer promises low-cost vacations or fraudulent timeshare rentals
- Prize scam, where the scammer offers a prize in exchange for registration or shipping fees
- Free trial scam, where the scammer offers a service for free that is difficult to cancel after the monthly bills begin after the trial period
- Loan scam, where the scammer targets people with low credit scores with predatory loans
What are Texas IRS Scams?
Texas IRS or government scams are particularly common during tax season, as that is when potential victims would expect calls from the IRS. A scammer calls claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent and that the target owes back taxes. The caller then threatens the target with an impending audit. Variations of this scam exist with callers claiming to be local law enforcement calling about outstanding warrants for owing the IRS. In either case, the scammer is using fear as a method for convincing the potential victim to reveal information or pay money. The IRS is aware of tax scams and advises residents to be wary of fraudsters impersonating its employees. Reverse phone number lookups can retrieve the true identities of such callers.
Texas Tech Support Scams
A tech support scam usually begins with the target getting notified that viruses were detected on their computer. The scammer then requests remote access to the target’s computer to remove the viruses. Scammers employ this scheme to steal personal and financial information stored on victims’ computers. The TAG recommends exercising caution when being contacted by a computer or phone company in this way. They remind Texans that legitimate tech support and computer companies do not contact their customers for matters such as these.
Texas Voice Phishing Scams
Scammers employ voice phishing to trick victims into revealing sensitive information such as social security numbers, passwords, and bank account details. Voice phishing relies on the call receiver trusting the scammer enough to reveal information about themselves. They typically claim to represent companies of repute and that they need the information requested to secure the account. The TAG advises Texans to never give their personal information over the phone especially during unsolicited calls.
What are Texas Emergency Scams?
The TAG also refers to these as “Grandparent Scams” as they primarily prey on elderly Texans. Scammers employing this tactic claim to be family members or friends in dire need. They use caller ID spoofing to appear as someone their targets know. An emergency scammer may even disguise their voice or claim to sound different due to emotional stress or injury.
When suspicious of a caller claiming to be a loved one, make sure to stay calm and ask questions. If left unconvinced, reach out to the loved one by calling the number you already have or ask a shared acquaintance to corroborate their claims. Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately if you discover you have been contacted by a scammer.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Be aware that anyone can be a victim of a phone scam. There is a possibility that any unknown or unsolicited call from a vaguely familiar or unfamiliar number may be from a fraudster. Be cautious when dealing with unknown numbers or completely ignore them.
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Texas also has its own Do Not Call List. Register your phone number on this statewide list. Both registries restrict telemarketers and legitimate organizations from calling the registered numbers. Although the registries can not prevent scam calls, they can reduce the number of unsolicited calls received by the recipient and put the recipient on high alert when an unknown number claims to be from a known telemarketer who is restrained from calling the recipient.
- Terminate robocalls immediately after realizing what they are.
- Do some research on unfamiliar contacts, investment opportunities, new business associates, charities, opportunities. service providers or deals.
- Keep personal information secure including passwords and PINs. Legitimate organizations, such as banks and government agencies, will never ask you to disclose sensitive personal information over the phone.
- Ask questions calmly and do not let unknown callers rush you to a quick decision..
- Avoid using free unprotected Wi-Fi in public places. Personal information is susceptible to theft on shared public networks.
- Be wary of callers with numbers bearing international area codes and unknown local area codes.
- Report fraud or suspicion of fraud and identity theft to the FTCStay informed on scam and fraud trends. Obtain updates from organizations such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).