18 tips on how not to get scammed when your phone rings

Ben Rothke
5 min readJul 26, 2022

In my article This is what a scammer sounds like, I have over 100 audio clips of my calls with phone scammers. From Amazon scammers, social security fraud warrant scammers, and more, the number of robocalls yearly is increasing. And Americans are losing more and more money.

Scammers particularly target the elderly, as they are particularly vulnerable. This is due to several factors, including their giving and trusting nature, having time on their hands, often having lots of money, not being tech-savvy, and being susceptible to Medicare scams.

Why do phone scammers do this? As Willie Sutton (didn’t) said: that’s where the money is. Scammers today know where the money is — that’s why they call you. A day’s booty for a scammer can support their family in a 3rd-world country for a year. And they know the odds of them being caught and prosecuted are extraordinarily low.

These scammers operate as well-oiled businesses like those executing wrong-number text scams.

They are large, sophisticated, well-run, and scam millions of innocent victims.

Many people can no longer answer their phones due to the number of robocalls they receive daily. But knowing their shady tactics and deceptive techniques, you can avoid being a victim.

With that, here are 18 tips you should use to avoid being a victim of a scam robocaller:

  1. Don’t answer unknown calls — you can’t get scammed if you don’t answer the call. This does not always work as some people, due to their job, have to answer every call. Also, there are times you need to answer an unknown call, such as when a doctor is calling back, someone is calling the first time, etc.
  2. Assume that it is a scammer. In 2022, cold calling is quite expensive and ineffective, so most legitimate businesses no longer use this sales technique. So assume that the unknown call is a scammer until proven otherwise.
  3. Just hang up — if you think it is a scammer, just hang up. Most, but not all of the time, they will not call back.
  4. Be cautious with personal information — if you get an unexpected call, be extremely careful when sharing personal information. Even something seemingly innocuous as the…



Ben Rothke

I work in information security at Tapad. Write book reviews for the RSA blog, & a Founding member of the Cloud Security Alliance and Cybersecurity Canon.