According to a recent study by BeenVerified, 71% of Americans reported more phone scam messages in 2023 compared with previous years. Nearly half of those surveyed said that were getting scam messages every day and over 10% said they had already lost money to a scam.
With the average loss being $250 and some consumers losing thousands, it’s important to be aware of some of the most common scams and how to avoid them.
The study says that the most common reported fraud attempts are:
- 32.59% – Offering to reduce your debts (including credit cards, mortgages, and loans)
- 31.04% – Fake package delivery scams
- 28.1% – Business imposter scams
- 27.71% – Offering fake warranties or protection plans
- 25.7% – Banking and financial scams
How to protect yourself
With scams becoming more common, it’s important to protect yourself. Here are some effective strategies to avoid falling victim to phone scams:
- Exercise caution when answering calls from unfamiliar numbers. Scammers often use fake caller IDs or local area codes. If you don’t recognize the number, let it go to voicemail. Legitimate callers will leave a message if it’s important.
- If you receive a call from a supposed government agency, financial institution, or any organization requesting personal information, hang up and verify their identity. Use official contact information from their website or documents, and call them back to confirm the call is legitimate.
- Never share sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, credit card details, or passwords over the phone unless you initiated the call and are certain of the recipient’s identity. Legitimate organizations won’t request this information on the phone.
- Protect your accounts with two-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device, in addition to your password.
- Use reputable call-blocking apps that can identify and filter out potential scam calls. These apps often rely on databases of known scam numbers and can help minimize the number of unwanted calls you receive.
- Keep your phone’s operating system and apps up to date. Software updates often include security patches that help protect your device from vulnerabilities that scammers may exploit.
- If you receive a suspicious call, report it to your phone carrier and the appropriate authorities. This helps create a database of known scam numbers and contributes to efforts to combat phone fraud.
- If something feels off during a phone call, end the conversation. Scammers often use high-pressure tactics or create a sense of urgency to manipulate their victims. Taking a moment to assess the situation can prevent you from falling into their trap.