According to the federal government, thousands of Americans are falling prey each year to telephone scams that have cost some victims their life savings. Some scammers have taken to using pre-loaded cellphones because they can be obtained anonymously and are untraceable. Using the phones for an hour or two to attempt to defraud unsuspecting people before disposing of the phones without leaving a traceable trail for law enforcement to follow has become popular with scam artists.
Whether you get a call from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service threatening to put you in prison for unpaid taxes, or a frantic call from someone claiming to be a relative who is overseas and needs money immediately, scams prey upon your emotions. Here are three calls you might get that could make you to want to do a mobile phone number search.
The $20 a minute international call
You could be the target of a scam if your cellphone rings, but no one is there when you answer it. After it happens a few times, you might be tempted to call the number back, but doing so could prove to be costly.
Scammers make repeat calls to a cellphone in order to get someone to call them back. If you fall for this scam and call the number back, you could find a charge on your phone bill next month for an international call with roaming charges that could cost as much as $20 per minute. Before returning a call to a number you do not recognize, use any one of the free online services to do a mobile phone number search. Unless there is a recognizable name associated with the number, do not call it back.
The hysterical relative in distress
People have reported receiving telephone calls from cellphone numbers they do not recognize. Upon answering the call, they hear a sobbing or hysterical person claiming to be a grandchild or niece or nephew who is in under arrest or otherwise in trouble and in need of immediate money.
The calls are made to random telephone numbers in the hope that one of the people they call will have a relative fitting the description and, because of the fact the "relative" is hysterical, will not be able to tell it is not real. The "relative" asks for credit card information to extract money from the good Samaritan. A mobile phone number search before authorizing the transfer of money would reveal the caller to be a fake.
The Internal Revenue Service scam
Threatening telephone calls, sometimes using mobile phones, from scammers threatening people in the name of the IRS have gotten to be such a problem in this country that the real IRS has devoted a page on its website to make people aware of this fraudulent scheme. The callers threaten prison or the seizure of property unless the victims make an immediate payment through a wire transfer or prepaid phone card.
If you believe you have been targeted for a scheme involving a cellphone, you should report the call to your phone company immediately. You should also report the call to the Federal Trade Commission.