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Beware of This Robocall Scam

There’s been a recent wave of robocalls from unknown numbers with a recorded message stating that the callee must hold “to be connected with a federal agent.” And, if the callee does not hold for an agent, the robocall claims that swift legal action will ensue. This is a scam. Should you get a call like this, do not hold for an agent. Simply hang up. Understand that these robocalls, which use scare tactics such as threatening a lawsuit, are a scammer’s way of getting people on the phone to persuade or pressure them into a) sharing personal identifying information b) providing access to bank accounts or funds. These robocalls are scams aimed at gaining personal information and identities and stealing money.

Many scams are meant to target older Americans, and even steal their lifetime savings, thus it’s important for seniors to keep their guards up. Understand that federal agents do not typically call homes. Nor do they threaten legal action, as in the above example. If you receive suspicious calls of any nature, hang up! Here’s why: The scammer (caller) is hoping to engage you on the phone to pressure, trick, befriend, or scare you into giving out some of your personal information. For this reason, it is best to hang up and not engage with the caller.

Sometimes the scam caller may be friendly to gain trust. Truth be told, they are seeking to prey on people who are lonely, trusting, confused, or scared – to scam them. Other times, scammers may be forceful, threatening legal action or physical harm. They may use fear tactics, hoping that the person being scammed will cave in and give them what they want. Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. If you do receive a suspicious phone call, it is best to hang up and not engage with the caller.

If anyone is pressuring you to give them your personal information, asks for access to your accounts, or is seeking payment from you, go with your gut feelings. Stop communication with the scammer and do not share any information nor make any payments. When in doubt, seek help by talking to your trusted financial advisor, CPA, or friend or family member for advice and support.

Scams can be devastating. It’s always best to report fraud to help protect yourself and your community from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Cases of blackmail, extortion or harassments deserve immediate investigation and should be reported right away to the federal government. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the main agency that collects scam reports. Call 1-877-382-4357 (9:00 am – 8:00 pm, ET) or visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov to report scam phone calls, emails, computer support scams, fake checks, money and gift card scams, student loan and scholarship scams, prize, grants, and sweepstakes scams and more. Scams can also be reported to your local government at your state’s consumer protection office. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) can be notified if the problems relate to taxes or social security fraud respectively.

You can sign up to register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. This is a free and easy way to reduce telemarketing calls at home. This will enable you to get fewer calls within 31 days of registering your number. Additionally, avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. Never give out personal identifying information or account information to people you do not know and trust. Additionally, stay informed of the latest scams to avoid becoming a victim. The FTC offers valuable resources on their website to guide you.

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