Just this year, more than a thousand phone scams have been reported in Texas. These calls range from fake debt collections to identity theft.
“The goal, without a doubt is they are trying to get personal information from you. ” Community Partnership Coordinator with the Better Business Bureau, Coleman Swierc, said. “We see a lot of folks with scams for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Social security threats, the IRS, that is what we see the most of in this region.”
Swierc says most scams that are reported are from people over the age of 50. However, younger people are major targets as well.
No matter the age, the Better Business Bureau says scammers are usually successful in their theft due to causing fear in the victim.
“The core of this is they are threatening you and they are hoping you will act irrationally based on their threat and that you will give them some sort of private information or even worse money," Swierc said. " And once that money is gone, it is gone.”
Swierc says the scammers will say they are with the government or imitate some sort of law enforcement.
“If somebody calls imitating the government and is threatening you, that's a telltale sign that's no good,” Swierc said.
As technology advances, so do various schemes. Some people have claimed to receive calls from the IRS, demanding they pay additional taxes. Others say calls from the social security office, ordering them to give their social security number. Others have reported calls from officials arguing they have missed jury duty and must take care of the warrant by paying off their bond.
Swierc says if you feel it is legit and needs to be paid for, do not pay with cash. Also, never wire transfer money and certainly never use any kind of prepaid, debit or gift card.
The FCC announced Wednesday they will vote next month on whether or not phone carriers should be allowed to block spam calls by default. They would also decide if the FCC should fine the people responsible for spam calls.
For now, you will have to download apps to help identify what calls are real or fake.