What are Georgia Phone Scams?
Georgia phone scams are dishonest attempts to unlawfully obtain personal information from Georgians and cheat them out of their money using phone services. They are often executed using live phone calls, robocalls, or text messages that can be hard to detect. In many cases, using a phone lookup tool can help when trying to spot a potential scammer.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Law protects consumers from fraudulent and unfair business practices by enforcing the state’s Fair Business Practices Act. They also receive and investigate filed complaints of scams perpetrated against Georgians.
Typical phone scams being committed in the State of Georgia include:
- Lottery or sweepstakes scams, where fraudsters use counterfeit checks or bogus prizes to trick victims into sending money as taxes for purported winnings.
- Banking or Credit card scams, where fraudsters attempt to steal their targets’ money or credit card information using fake loan offers.
- COVID-19 related scams where scammers exploit Georgians’ fears of the coronavirus pandemic to defraud their marks.
- IRS scams, where con artists pretend to be IRS employees and coerce their victims to send money to settle owed taxes or risk going to jail or immediate arrest.
- Lost pet scams, where scammers extort money from their targets by claiming to have found their lost pets.
- Romance scams, where fraudsters dupe their victims of sensitive information or money while pretending to be in love with them.
- Scholarship scams, in which scammers promote false scholarship offers as baits to dupe unsuspecting students who seek free tuition opportunities.
- Charity scams, where scammers disguise as legitimate charities to solicit donations for personal benefits.
- Student loan scams, where scammers use students’ stolen identities to steal money by fraudulently requesting study loans.
- Tech support scams, where fraudsters claim to be legitimate tech support staff and attempt to gain remote access to their marks’ computer systems and glean sensitive information.
- Employment scams, where fraudsters offer their targets fake jobs in exchange for some fees.
What are Georgia Credit Card Scams?
In credit card scams, fraudsters attempt to steal credit card information by pretending to be credit card fraud investigators. The callers may employ caller ID spoofing and often sound convincing, and inform their targets of observed suspicious activities on their accounts. Essentially, a phone scam will attempt to
- Access a credit card number or some method for using the credit card
- Learn what the credit cards security number is
- Use this information to purchase items online before the card can be blocked
Do not ever provide your credit card’s security codes to unknown callers, especially if the call is from an unknown number or is unexpected. Legitimate card companies already have this information and will never request it from cardholders over the phone. Victims of these scams can contact their credit card companies or file reports with their local law enforcement agencies.
What are Georgia IRS Scams?
These scams are rampant during tax season but also happen year round. The callers usually pose as legitimate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents to extort their marks. They exploit taxpayers’ expectations of official IRS updates during this season to inform their targets of errors in their filed tax returns. The scammers then request sensitive information such as social security numbers to rectify the non-existent errors. They use this information to steal their victims’ money and commit identity theft.
In another variation of this scam, IRS scammers tell taxpayers that they owe taxes to the IRS and must clear them immediately. They use threats of arrests, legal actions, or jail time to get them to pay the supposed debts. Georgians should know that the IRS does not solicit money over the phone. They already have taxpayers’ details on file and will never request them in a phone call. Residents who are IRS scam victims can file reports with the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) or file complaints online with the Georgia Consumer Protection Division.
What are Georgia Tech Support Scams?
Persons who commit these scams pretend to be with computer companies and inform their victims of suspected virus or malware attacks on their computers. The callers often convince them to grant remote access for repairs to prevent system damage and permanent data loss. After their fake attempt to fix targets’ computers, the scammers will then request payment for rendered service, usually via untraceable means like wire transfers. In some cases, scammers may install spyware capable of monitoring and retrieving their victims’ sensitive information for identity and financial thefts. It is advisable never to grant remote access to unverified tech support employees. They can use reverse phone lookup tools to query the identities of callers who request remote access to their computers. Doing this can prevent them from falling prey to tech supports scams.
What are Georgia Lottery or Sweepstakes Scams?
These scams use fake lotteries or sweepstakes to bait victims into giving up their personal information or money over the phone. Fraudsters who engage in these scams usually claim to be with the Georgia Lottery Corporation or other legitimate lottery or sweepstakes companies. The scammers fool their targets into making upfront payments to access cash winnings or bogus prizes in a contest they might not have entered. Sometimes, they ask for their targets’ confidential information to facilitate the payment of such winnings into the victims’ bank accounts. Georgians should know that no legitimate lottery or sweepstakes company will request advance payments to deliver prizes to winners. Persons who are victims of sweepstakes scams in Georgia can file complaints online with the FTC. Reverse phone lookup tools can help you verify unknown callers’ identities and avoid these scams.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
There are multiple ways to detect and avoid phone scams, though some are better than others. Be sure to understand all of the methods for avoiding these types of scams because scammers are inherently clever and subtle with their approaches, and different approaches require different methods of detection.
- Stay aware of current and emerging scam trends within the state by reviewing scam alerts. Law enforcement and other consumer protection agencies periodically publish these on their websites.
- End a call immediately if you hear an automated voice. Do not attempt to engage a live operator or press any button as this may lead you into a situation you cannot escape from.
- Download and install call-blocking software on your cell phone to detect and filter suspected scam calls.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi for online bank transactions. Scammers usually steal confidential information from unsuspecting individuals within unsecured networks.
- Research all business opportunities, prospective partners, advertised investments, or high-yield offers to determine their legitimacy. Do not take a caller’s claims at face value.
- Protect sensitive and financial information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, account passwords, and personal identification numbers (PIN). Scammers primarily seek their targets’ confidential data by pretending to be representatives of legitimate businesses or government agencies.
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of unwanted calls from telemarketers and other commercial businesses. Although the FTC aims to eliminate unsolicited calls to numbers on the list, scammers ignore this and continue to call registered phone users. However, the registry provides a way of identifying scam callers.
- Refrain from sharing sensitive personal information on social media. Records containing mothers’ maiden names, birth places, birth dates, or security questions should be well-protected. Scammers regularly comb social media accounts to gather information on potential targets.
- Submit reports of phone scam incidents to the FTC online. The FTC compiles these reports and analyzes them to identify scam patterns and track scammers.
- Protect your mobile devices and PCs using up-to-date anti-virus software. Make sure to use the latest operating systems and web browsers to prevent hackers from breaking into your devices and stealing confidential data.