Scammers have figured out many ways to cheat and deceive you. They may act friendly and helpful to get you to lower your guard, or they may try and scare you or make you anxious in order to get you to act against your best judgement. A phone scammer will almost always be aiming to gain your personal or banking information in order to commit identity theft.

This article will cover a variety of topics such as: 

  1. How to Identify a Phone Scam
  2. Examples of Phone Scams
  3. How to Stop Spam Calls
  4. What to do After Falling Victim to a Scam
  5. Reporting Phone Scams


1. How to Identify a Phone Scam:

  • There is no prize. If you a scammer calls you telling you that you have been "selected" or won something significant, it is almost certainly a scam unless you have recently entered into a raffle or prize pool that is associated with the caller. 
  • If you have to submit payment information or personally identifiable information, then there is likely no prize. 
  • Scammers may impersonate law enforcement or federal agents. Real law enforcement or government agents wont try and initiate fund collection processes over the phone.
  • Scammers will try and impose a time constraint, most real businesses will not push a short time constraint unless they are bound by a specific deadline. Don't allow them to pressure you in to making an immediate decision.
  • Scammers will often try and solicit transfers using a gift card purchase or by requesting cash be sent through the mail.
  • Government agencies won't call you to verify your personal information over the phone.


2. Examples of Phone Scams:

  • Impersonator Scams:
    • Scammers often pretend to be someone you can trust, like law enforcement, government agents, or a trusted family friend or professional contact.
  • Debt Relief and Credit Repair Scams:
    • Scammers may offer to lower your credit interest rate, fix your credit score, or have your student loans forgiven. These are not real offers, especially if they are requesting you pay their companies fee first.
  • Business/Investment Scams:
    • Scammers may contact you with "attractive investment opportunities" or offer business coaching services. This is often a scam targeting the resources you would use to start a business, or separate you from funds that you saved for direct business investment.
  • Charity Scams:
    • Scammers often pose as representatives for charities. It is easier for them to reach out requesting funds to help in a current, newsworthy event that evokes an emotional response from the targets of the scam.
  • Extended Warranty Scams:
    • Scammers may contact you offering extended warranty contracts that do not entitle you to any true service. 
  • "Free" Trials:
    • Scammers may call you with product opportunities with a free trial, without disclosing that the ongoing billing is automatic after the "free trial" period has ended. 
  • Loan Scams:
    • Often scammers will claim that they need an advance on the loan payments in order to clear you to receive the loaned capital, in truth there is no loan capital, and they are trying to separate you from your hard earned money. 
  • Prize and Lottery Scams:
    • In a typical lottery scam, the scammer impersonates a lottery official and claims that you won the prize, but first must pay the taxes and registration fees to access your winnings. 
  • Travel Scams and Timeshare Scams:
    • Scammers may promise free or low cost vacations, only to reveal that the low cost is contingent on spending much more money buying into a timeshare, scammers may also claim that they have a sale "lined-up" and ready for you to quickly flip a vacation property. 


3. How to Stop Spam Calls:

  • Hang Up:
    • Even if it isn't a scammer on the other side of the line, when it isn't someone you want to business with, don't talk to them. 
  • Call Blocking or Labeling:
    • Please contact your service provider for information regarding their available call blocking/labeling features.
  • Don't Trust Caller ID:
    • Scammers may make phone calls impersonating another individual or business (this is called spoofing).


4. What to do After Falling Victim to a Scam

  • If you paid the scammer with a card attached to your banking provider you may be able to stop the transfer before it is completed. Contact your banking provider immediately. 
  • If you paid the scammer with a gift card, contact the issuing company and request stop payment and a refund. 
  • If you paid the scammer with a wire transfer, contact the transfer agency immediately and work through their fraud report process. It is unlikely you will get money back, but the quicker you can contact the transfer agency, the higher the chance you may recover funds.
  • If you paid the scammer with a digital banking app such as CashApp or Venmo, immediately contact the company and work through their fraud report process. 
  • If you gave the scammer remote access to your computer, immediately run a security software scan, and follow the instructions of the anti-virus software.
  • If you gave the scammer your username and password, immediately change your password right away. If you use that password on more than one service, change all of the logins that share the same compromised password.
  • If you gave the scammer your SSN, visit to learn how to monitor your credit report to see if your SSN is being misused.
  • If someone calls and offers to help you recovery money you have already lost, don't give them money or personal information to help. Your probably dealing with a "Fake Refund" scam.


5. Reporting Phone Scams:

  • If you have lost money to a phone scam or have information regarding a company or scammer who has contacted you, report it at


*This article was created using resources such as the "Phone Scams" pamphlet obtained from the FTC.