Whether we like it or not, telephones are just part of life now. No matter if you’re the person that is tethered to your cell with an iron lifeline, or the type that “loses” your phone just to get a little bit of peace and quiet, you’re still at risk for some of the more unexpected dangers that come with have 7 digits that lead directly to you.
We all know we shouldn’t give out our social security over the phone, but it’s not always an obvious threat that gets you. The most innocuous things can sometimes be the most dangerous, like four simple words on the other end of a telephone line.
These days, getting a phone call instead of a text is a rare gesture. So, when we do hear our phones ring, it’s hard not to get a little excited. The only problem is when your eager hello is greeted by an unfamiliar voice.
Even though you weren’t expecting a call, you don’t assume there’s any harm in answering it, right? Who knows, it might even be important if someone is calling you rather than texting.
Svien Jenner / Instagram
So you decide to pick up the call. The connection isn’t great, so you can’t identify the voice on the other end of the line. But it’s asking you a dangerous, four-word question.
The question isn’t about who might be hiding in your house, waiting to pounce when you turn the corner. No one is asking what you did last summer. It’s actually something much scarier.
The question to listen up for is “can you hear me?” It sounds innocent enough, but even if you can hear the mysterious caller, there’s a hidden reason why you shouldn’t respond positively to their prompts.
The person on the other end of the line could be trying to lure you into saying “yes” and recording your statement. But what could they possibly do with that?
Users are frequently asked to say “yes” in order to confirm changes to a bank account or authorize charges. A scammer could use your recorded response to access other personal information or claim you agreed to pay a hefty fee.
Fifth Third Bank
So how should you respond? Experts recommend turning the question back on your caller, asking if they can hear you. But that’s not the only phone call that can turn out poorly…
It’s always intimidating to hear from the IRS, but you should remain calm if you receive a phone call from someone claiming you owe back taxes. And whatever you do, DON’T make this one mistake.
Never give out any personal or financial information! If the IRS needs to contact you, they’ll do so in writing and use official letterhead. But scammers also pretend to be someone else.
Tax Services of Londonderry
Scammers have also posed as bank representatives, asking you to confirm a transaction or verify your credit card’s security code. So how should you respond to this sort of call?
Once again, don’t give out any personal information. If you’re in doubt, hang up and call your bank’s customer service line. They can verify if your caller was an official representative or a scammer.
All spam calls might be annoying, but there’s something extra irritating about the kind that hang up after one ring. But what is that caller even hoping to accomplish?
They’re hoping that you see a missed call and call the number back. Those phone lines often charge by the minute, with fees as high as $17 per sixty seconds, so don’t indulge your curiosity.
Some nefarious scammers will call you pretending to be a kidnapper asking for a ransom payment. Never give your information away; you should reach out to the person they claim to have captured and, if necessary, the authorities.
Have you ever received a phone call from Apple, Microsoft, or any other technology company claiming that they’ve noticed a virus on your computer or mobile device? You can tell that’s a scammer by one telltale sign.
As much as they might know about you, Apple or Microsoft isn’t going to personally call you, let alone know about a potential virus. Unless you’ve contacted customer service recently, anyone using that alias is probably a scammer .
Scammers have also been known to call grandparents claiming to be a grandchild in need of emergency funds. As with the kidnapping calls, verify the identity of any caller before handing over any financial info.
If you receive a phone call informing you that you just won a massive cash prize or a luxury vacation, don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s one step you should take to verify any winnings.
New York Post
Try to think back and remember if you’ve entered any lotteries or raffles. If you haven’t entered anything recently, there’s no way for you to have won a prize! Sorry to burst your bubble.
When election season approaches, scammers start posing as members of political campaigns soliciting donations. Always verify their identity before making a pledge, however. Either ask for them to mail you some literature or research their cause and call back.
No one wants to get into trouble with the law, so it’s understandable that you’d want to comply with a caller looking to verify your jury duty eligibility. Don’t give them any of your personal information, though!
As with other official organizations, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a legitimate call from your local court over jury duty. Just keep your eyes on the mail of official, and truthful, summonses!
Following these tips will help keep you safe from spam phone calls, but the Internet can be even more dangerous. While some scams there are obvious, there’s another lurking where you’d least expect it.
It’s not uncommon for Amazon shoppers to find “deals” on the online shopping giant for as low as 50 percent off the standard retail price. It almost seems too good to be true, right? Well, you know what they say about that…
Asqueladd / Wikimedia Commons
Thieves are always on the lookout for new ways to steal hard working people’s money right from under their noses. With the explosion of online shopping, Amazon presents a juicy opportunity for these criminals.
More and more often, scammers have been using Amazon to lure in customers with absurdly low prices on popular items. Because they have the lowest costs, many shoppers choose these scams automatically.
In addition, Amazon’s format displays all merchants as equally legitimate. It’s not like comparing apples to oranges. The scammers blend right in with the site’s top retailers.
After they’ve got innocent customers’ attention, these criminals deliver counterfeit versions of the product shoppers thought they were purchasing.
In some cases, they don’t even deliver anything at all. These scammers simply take the money and run, so to speak. They can also keep setting up new accounts, making them increasingly difficult to trace.
This is of great concern to both Amazon shoppers and legitimate sellers whose own businesses are being affected. Some complain that Amazon isn’t doing enough to stop these con artists.
To combat this sort of thing, Amazon is supposed to absorb the cost of these frauds with their “A to Z Guarantee,” which provides refunds to customers who purchase misrepresented products. Unfortunately, however, this has become more and more difficult.
Take, for instance, the case of 38-year-old Angela Stone of Golden, Colorado. In March 2017, she thought she was buying a video game for two dollars off the retail price from a seller named ‘amichellej2.’
Satisfied that she had found a solid bargain, she eagerly awaited the arrival of her new game. As more and more time passed, Stone got the feeling that something was off. This was no ordinary Amazon transaction.
In the next two weeks, not only had the game never arrived, but the seller received several dozen negative reviews. Going forward, Stone says she’ll completely avoid buying anything from “new sellers.”
Amazon claims they’re committed to helping their customers buy and sell items confidently, which is why they require tax identity information from their sellers. It’s a big step in the right direction.
Previously, they’ve also addressed other loopholes that left people vulnerable to hackers. Still, there are some major holes in Amazon’s system that leave users vulnerable to getting burned…
For one thing, Amazon provides no protection for customers making transactions outside of their website. That’s what 26-year-old, Houston-based beauty and makeup blogger Alexandra Garcia discovered when she tried buying a $750 camera for just $369 in December 2016.
The seller asked customers to email them before making their purchase. Despite her suspicions, Alexandra did as she was instructed and emailed the seller. At that point, she was asked to buy the camera with an Amazon gift card.
Days later, she was told that she couldn’t get the camera shipped to her unless she sent the seller the code for another gift card to cover the cost of insurance on the shipment. When Alexandra called Amazon customer service, though, she got a huge surprise.
She was told that her transaction number didn’t exist. Not only that, but she had been scammed…and Amazon would not cover it since the transaction occurred outside of the website.
Mike Mozart / Flickr
After making a number of phone calls up the corporate ladder, Alexandra finally received her refund. However, it wasn’t enough for her. She claims that she’ll never buy anything from Amazon ever again.
Ultimately, she visited a physical Best Buy store to buy the same camera. Brick-and-mortar stores may be less trendy, but at least you can look into the eyes of the people you’re buying from!
You can watch her warning in the video below. Hopefully, Alexandra’s experience will prevent other shoppers from falling prey to similar scams!