Beware of These Three Widespread Fraudulent Phone Scams

phone scam

By Jawahar Malhotra
HOUSTON: It is not uncommon to receive marketing phone calls on your home phone during the day, but of late there have been a rash of phonecalls that try to scam people by instilling a fear of losing possessions, reprisals or a deal that’s just too good to be true. Since phones are an extension of our personal space, scammers prey on the human psyche to get to what they want the most: your money.

No doubt you have heard of the call from someone claiming to be your brother or son’s friend and asking that you wire transfer some money to help them get out of jail. Or the call from a person claiming to be your business acquaintance or friend who is stuck in a foreign country as his passport and other valuables have been stolen and he needs some cash to get him back home.

These criminals are experts in psychological manipulation and once they have you on the line, find all sorts of catchy phrases to keep you talking to them on the phone. These days there are three very common fraudulent calls making the rounds, according to Office Muzzafar Siddiqi, Senior Police Officer with the Houston Police Department, who advises people not to stay on the phone with these callers and not to try to call them back on the numbers they may leave on their answering machines.

To reassure the public not to fall for the most common phony calls that are making the rounds these days, Officer Siddiqi, who is a veteran of HPD and a well-known person in the community, provided the typical dialogue and style of each call. It came as no surprise to me as a reporter, that I have received call number 1 or a slight variation at least six times in the past two months, but since I monitor my calls, they left me messages on my answering machine.

 Call #1: The IRS Pay Demand. “I am calling from IRS my ID number is (he will give you a fake ID number) my phone number is (It will be a working number but not the IRS or maybe when you call back you will hear a recoding saying you have reached the US Department of Treasury – Internal Revenue Services – still this is a fake number). You have unpaid taxes for (he will tell the year or several years) years. A warrant has been issued and a police team from the Sheriff’s office in on their way to arrest you. This is your last chance to clear you dues. You must pay now and protest later if you do not owe these taxes to avoid your arrest. I can accept your payment online and will inform Sheriff Department that you have paid the dues.” Siddiqi says the caller will use all possible threatening words to make your panic but DO NOT GET PANIC AS THIS IS A FAKE CALL.

Call #2: The Dish Network Super Deal.
“I am calling from Dish Network. You are one of our valued customer and we thank you being with dish network since several years. Dish network wants offer you a special promotional package. To get this benefit you will have to register today pay today and for six months or one year you will not get any bill. You keep watching your channels free for six months or one year. If you are interested, I need some information.  (Caller will take all your information, he will be very nice, he will ask a couple of personal questions, like which State you are in, how long have you been in the US, and may even start talking to you in your mother tongue). During the discussion he get your credit card information.” Siddiqi says THIS IS AGAIN A FAKE CALL. DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION

Call #3: The Virus Call from Microsoft.
“I am calling for Microsoft. Your computer has been diagnosed with a special virus and you may lose all you data because of it. We are informing you so that you may have this virus removed. If you are next to the computer, I can help you to remove this virus if you follow the directions the caller will give. If you do, he will access all the information in your computer and this may result in a financial loss to you and you may also lose all your data.” Siddiqi says, once again THIS IS A FAKE CALL.

Officer Muzaffar Siddiqi

Officer Muzaffar Siddiqi

So the best advice that Siddiqi can give to all who receive these calls or any variant that seeks to get something from you through manipulation is to beware and not be gullible and trusting when a stranger comes a calling for it may cost you a lot of money and peace of mind later.