Let me state that phone scammers lie and deceive. They will lie and tell you they are from Chase or tell you they are calling from your utility provider when they are not. They will spoof their numbers such that caller ID displays bogus information.
There is a cute trick that you can use if someone is screaming at you uncontrollably. During their tantrum, signal time-out and then point to your teeth, and then point at them. Make it seem like they have something in between their teeth that is gross. It will throw them for a loop, and can often stop their tantrum. Buy throwing them off their track, it will frustrate them and can stop their tirade.
I used a similar trick with telemarketers. They have their standard set of questions they expect victims to ask. But asking them where they are calling from is not one of them.
Many of them will say a large city like Denver, Chicago, New York, or Miami. But when you ask them for a specific address, they will put you on hold and ask their supervisor. If they happen to have an address, you can ask them what part of the city they are in.
Since they are utterly clueless and shocked at being asked, they will put you on hold again to ask their supervisor or makeup something.
If they do tell you a city, ask them which part of the town they are in. When one of them told me they were in New York City, I asked which part. There was a pause, and he replied: North. As any New Yorker knows, no one here refers to that part of New York City as North NYC. Frustrated, he hung up on me.
If nothing else, listen to these recordings to understand how the scammers operate. They are often pushy and will lie to get your personal information.
So here are a few examples where I tried that, and it worked:
Credit card interest rate reduction scams
Zero % credit card — A popular scam call is from firms promising to lower your credit card interest rate to 0%. The caller told me he was from North Orlando. Here he said he was from ‘south’ Atlanta, but when pushed he disconnected the call. And if you hear this tune while on hold, it is almost certain they are calling from a call center specializing in scam calls.
Here he says he’s from Orlando but hangs up when asked where he office is.
In this call, after asking 2 different people if they are from Visa, Inc., they danced around the question, went into long monologues about how the call is recorded for my protection and asked for my card number. They could not answer how Visa could lower a rate on a Citi card. The point is they try to confuse until you will share your card number with them. And after asking them to verify they were from Visa like they said they were, he said I lacked sense. and that I did not have a brain.
I did not get to ask them what city they were in here, but he deceivingly says he is not asking for confidential information, just the full credit card number. When I said that it was confidential, he hung up.
When asked where in Atlanta the business office is in, he said he’d be fired if he gave it to me. But he said I could visit their web site for the address. But when I told him the domain did not exist, he disconnected the call.
In this call, ‘Oscar’ said he was from the ‘Department of Lower Rate.’ As a call center employee speaking on a recorded line, the fact that he didn’t know what PCI is was a red flag. Aside from the fact that he lied and said he was from Chase.
Another 0% credit card scammer. Besides making ludicrous and false claims, he spends a few minutes avoiding giving the office location in Atlanta.
He then said he was in Turkey. I then asked him if he knew what Türk Hava Yolları was. I happened to know Turkish Airlines airlines in Turkish is Türk Hava Yolları. When I asked him if he knew what that was, he had no idea. He finally got so upset, he unleashed a tirade of fail language (edited out of this file) before he hung up on me.
In this call, she lied when asked if she works for Chase. And when asked where in Atlanta she is in, disconnected.
When asked what part of Orlando he was in, hung up. But listen to the call to understand their modes of operation.
Lied and said he was with Visa.
Another call where he gets angry at the end and does hang up when asked where his office is.
They do not like it when you ask questions. Here he lied and said he was from Chase.
In this call he just throws in a lot of different terms and facts to confuse the person. You know they are a scammer when they take minutes to answer the location question.
While they are quite polite at the start, once you call them on their lies, they will go into a litany of profanities. When asked what part of Atlanta he was it, this caller ended with such profanities including the n word.
In this call, she says she is from Mastercard/Visa. But tries to dance around the point when I tell her that Mastercard and Visa are competing companies. When asked where her offices were, she said she can’t tell me until I give her my credit card information. When she puts her supervisor on the phone, he’s honest enough to say that he doesn’t know what part of Atlanta he’s in.
Automobile extended warranties (you get a policy, but no coverage)
There is a lot of money to be made in selling extended warranties. While these warranties may strictly speaking be legitimate, they always way overpriced what you can get direct. While you may have an extended warranty, what you won’t get is coverage. Try using the policy at most mechanics and dealerships, and you will be told it is not accepted.
This woman from the Vehicle Processing Department tried to sell me a $4,900 extended warranty. She said I could take it to any dealership or ASE certified mechanic for repair. When I told her I wanted to call my dealership and see if they accepted their policies, she hung up on me.
Auto extended warranty — When pressed on his office location, he hung up on me.
Another auto extended warranty call. When she told me that she was calling from Illi-noise, I knew that she was not really from the Land of Lincoln.
They use high-pressure tactics and want you to sign up immediately. When pressed for the name of the company, she hung up on me. My guess is that if Googled, one could find that Dealer Services and National Dealer Services have hundreds of negative comments on the BBB and other web sites.
They often use the term recorded call to give them a semblance of legitimacy. They also use high-pressure tactics and declare they will close your file if you don’t sign up immediately.
While I did not ask the person on this call their location, you can hear the entire approach they use to scam you with an extended warranty. Very smooth, and he throws out a lot of useless facts. When I noted that they have an F rating with the Better Business Bureau (contrary to what he said), he hung up on me.
The gentleman from Matrix Warranty Solutions was quite polite until I told him of the many complaints about them from the Better Business Bureau. He then got quite defensive and disconnected the call.
In this call, I made the horrendous error to ask her the name of her company, to which she disconnected me. They know that if you ask the name of the company, you will Google it. And quickly see the many complaints of all of these firms.
Social security administration
In this call, the scammer makes absurd claims about various warrants out for my arrest. Most people would be scared by the allegations and cooperate. But he makes mistakes in nearly every sentence. He asks for banking balances to know how much to ask for later.
He often ‘checks his system’ to make up things and try to give a semblance of legitimacy. This is a scam where people may come to your door to get the money, or alternatively send them large amounts of money via transfer or gift cards.
This is a scam that entraps the victim and confuses them. The caller goes on incessantly. When I asked him towards the end what part of Washington, DC he was in, he gets confused. He tries to Google the answer and then confuses the capital of Washington state (Olympia) with his location in Washington, DC.
And then, when asked what Metro line he takes to work (options Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Silver), he says ‘4’.
In this call, he mentioned someone from Columbia. When I said it sounded like a professor from Columbia University, he got frustrated, started cursing (edited out), and then disconnected the call. But the first 11 minutes of the call are the standard script these scammers work from.
In this call he says he is from the San Antonio Social Security office, but knows nothing about the city. Listen to this half-hour call to get a feel for the method used. Besides the story of a warrant in Texas being nonsense, he asks numerous irrelevant pretext questions.
Most calls have have the scammer hanging up on me. In this call, I had to hang up on him after almost 30 minutes as I had to get back to things. What was different in this call, is that he admitted he was a scammer. After saying he was from Portland, then from Australia, but not knowing the most basic facts of those places, he came clean.
Standard scam call where he makes absurd claims involving the FTC and how my social security card has a problem. He said he was calling from the SSA Headquarters in Woodlawn, Maryland. When asked how far he was from Baltimore, he said it was a flight away, or a 3-hour drive. When in fact is is about 10 miles.
Scams targeting the elderly
Senior healthcare — yet another scam targeting the elderly. Saying he was in Florida — when pressed for a city, he hung up.
End of life scams
Selling funeral care, he said he was from NJ. When asked for a city, he hung up.
Cremation care — said he was from West Palm Beach. When asked where in West Palm Beach, he also hung up.
Energy supplier scams (not only will you not get a discount, your rates will skyrocket)
The scams around reduced energy supplies can be quite devious. The initial person you speak with will tell you about the low rates you will get.
When they ultimately transfer you to the verification department, you will be quoted a different, much higher, and often exorbitantly higher rate. Given the nature of these calls, that cost difference is often lost on the victim, with rates such as 0.36005837 cents per therm and or 0.130131761 per kWh (kilowatt-hour).
The rates you will be charge are often quadrupled. But the nature of the billing, the customer may not get the updated bill for 6–8 weeks at which point they are on the hook for these massive charges. If it is winter or summer, where energy usage surges, the amounts can be quite significant.
For the energy supplier that sends you your bill in the mail, even if you dispute the bogus charges, if you do not pay your bill in full, it will show as delinquent. You can dispute the rate with your TPS (third-party supplier) if you can get them on the phone. But it needs to be paid, as your billing energy company has already paid the TPS you signed with.
And if you don’t pay, it could result in your gas/electricity being shut off. Most of the time, the shut off would not occur until 60 days past due. Eventually, if unpaid, it will end up in collections.
Bogus energy suppliers — Most are from INDRA Energy, saying they are from the local provider. While they may offer a small rebate, the energy prices they charge are often 200% more than your local provider. Note the music in the first few seconds here. If you hear this, almost certain that it is a scammer. And when asked what part of Newark she was it, hung up on me.
Energy scammers are particularly pushy, as once they get you signed up, most people will not see the charges for months and are unlikely to cancel. So the profits are significant. Here, when asked where his business office is in New Jersey, there is a long pause where he is asking his supervisor how to proceed, before disconnecting the call.
In this call, he lied and said I was being charged commercial rates and would lower it by 30%. He also lied when he said he was from my electricity supplier. When I asked him where his office was, he used foul language (edited out) and hung up.
As I said, these callers lie through their teeth. Here, he lies and says he is from my local energy supplier. When asked why he didn’t already have the information, he hung up.
One of the most inexperienced scammers here, when asked the address, said he was in CT. It was clear that he looked up what CT stood for, but it was clear he was not from Connecticut when he pronounced it Con-nec-ti-cut, not knowing he second letter c is silent.
Nearly everything this person says in this call from All American Power & Gas is fallacious, from the connection to PSE&G, lie that I was put on a commercial account, and untruth about distribution fees. He gets stumped when asked about the tunnel near his office and disconnects the call.
Google business listings (just Google scam instead)
Here, the caller says they will get your business prime search listings on Alexa, Siri, and others. While there are aspects of SEO (search engine optimization) that are entirely legitimate, this is not one of them.
As Shimon Sandler, President of Sandler Digital notes, what these phone scammers are doing is something business owners can do themselves. All a business owner has to do is go to this Google site and update their business information.
As to the idea that this firm will load and update your business data every month on tens of billions of devices, for $20, is just absurd.
He also says the $20 monthly maintenance fee is to get your business listed directly on every device, all billions of them, for optimization; which is patently false.
Debt elimination (and debt recreation)
Here, they use the recent stimulus package to scam you into thinking you only have to make three payments, and your debt is eliminated.
The caller references the Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak, which he says relives all debt when it, in fact, delays merely interest. He goes as far as to say that President Trump spoke about the program.
This simply transfers your debt, makes you pay a fee, and then leaves you with more debt than before.
US Government Grants scam
There are a good 50 red flags in this call purporting to be from the US Government, that I received a $9,000 grant. He tries to throw in some legitimacy by mentioning the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and President Obama.
But to get my grant money, I have to pay a $250 processing fee at a local CVS via a money transfer service like MoneyGram. They tell me that I will ultimately get $9,250, but the processing fee must be paid first.
The last 8 minutes of the call is an attempt to get the agent to tell me where her office is located in New York City. She says that she is on Liberty Street but can’t tell me what part of the city she is, what borough she is in, or even what bridge she takes when she drives to work. I try to give her a hint of what part of the city Liberty Street is in, but she ultimately hangs up on me.
This is an absurd call that screams out scam. But there are incredibly profitable and successful.
Home buying scams
Most of the scams are rather obvious what the scammer is trying to achieve. In this call, she said she is buying houses and wanted to know if I was interested in selling. Many of the questions were immaterial, except for someone on an information-gathering expedition.
As she said she was in Edison, NJ, the last five minutes of the call are her dancing around trying to answer a question about the train station’s name in Edison. Anyone who works in Edison over a month would have this at their fingertips.
As to the scam itself, Jeff Hall QSA, editor of the PCI Guru blog, thinks that they are trying to get a hold of information to take over your house’s title to get loans against your home. If that is indeed the case, this is an incredibly profitable and devastating scam.
Vacation and timeshare scams
In the last few years, an entire industry has developed, helping people get out of their timeshare contracts. This is because many people purchase timeshares via a fast-talking salesperson.
Countless vacation scams that have been going around for decades. In this call, they are trying to convince me that I have a $1,500 credit that will expire when the phone call terminates.
The call is a classic scam call with lots of high-pressure tactics, false promises, attempts to create friendship, and a sales pitch that defies economic sense.
There are countless vacation scams and this call is about a VIP vacation treatment at the Vallarta Gardens in Mexico. When I asked him where in Cancun his offices were, he was evasive and hung up. As to Vallarta Gardens, this person wrote that “it is a resort that exists just to run scam sales operations”.
At the beginning of this call, it states and offer of an all-inclusive complementary stay. But then it turns into a vacation package for $1,699. When I told him this was supposed to be complementary, he ended the call.
Solar energy scams
If you get numerous unsolicited calls about something, it is likely to be a scam. For those who live in sunny area, you likely have gotten calls about getting free solar panels for your home. This call is one of those, and the caller says he’s from Brooklyn. But hangs up on me when I ask where in Brooklyn the office he is calling from is in.
This guy from Solar USA said he was in Jersey City, but knew nothing of the area without Googling it. He argued for about 4 minutes about Jersey City geography before disconnecting me.
With about half of America using Amazon, scammers have a high success rate of getting a legitimate Amazon customer.
In this call, the scammer says they are from Amazon and there’s a problem with your order. In order to resolve it, you have to install TeamViewer. This is a remote control program that will let them have access to your desktop. They will then, very quickly, access all of your financial accounts, and drain them before you can report it.
The scammers have you fill out a refund form with your bank information, then have you log into your bank, while they maintain a remote connection with TeamViewer. The unsuspecting victim will quickly find out that with access to their bank account, the scammers will transfer money to their accounts, and the victim is then left with a zero balance.
The scammer refused to say where he was from, and was quite aggressive. Why was he so aggressive? Because if he’s successful, he can almost retire with the profits he will make.
In another call, he uses nonsense, lies, technobabble and fear to get me to install remote control software so he can take control of my desktop. Why Amazon would have a person fill out a Google Docs form to issue a refund defies logic and business senses.
Scammers are liars
All of these phone scammers are liars. The best way to deal with them is to not answer the phone. If you do answer and they have these methods, knowing how to deal with them is an excellent way to avoid being scammed.