Phone scammers are a moving target. Once people get wise to the ruse, the bad guys shift to another approach. That’s why it’s best to always be on guard.
Here are a couple current approaches by scammers that are particularly mortifying. Read and beware.
Just say ‘yes’
This scam is terrifying in its simplicity. The caller uses a number that’s unfamiliar to the target but has an area code that, at the least, seems familiar. Once answered, the scammer asks, “Can you hear me?” (alternates: “Are you the homeowner?” and “Do you pay the bills?”)
Once the target offers the obvious answer – “yes” – the scam is complete. The hacker has recorded the target’s voice, and can use that to authorize credit charges or bill to an account.
That number seems OK
Scammers are using area codes that seem benign (read “domestic”) but actually come from other countries. One of the most common is 473, which looks like a U.S. but is the area code for Grenada and some island neighbors. Calls placed to those numbers (the scammers leave a message asking the target to call back) can run up a big bill.
Other international codes used by scammers (each require a “+1” country code):
- 242: Bahamas
- 246: Barbados
- 268: Antigua
- 284: British Virgin Islands
- 345: Cayman Islands
- 441: Bermuda
- 473: Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique
- 649: Turks and Caicos
- 664: Montserrat
- 721: St. Maarten
- 758: St. Lucia
- 767: Dominica
- 784: St. Vincent and Grenadines
- 809, 829, 849: Dominican Republic
- 868: Trinidad and Tobago
- 869: St. Kitts and Nevis
- 876: Jamaica
How to fight these low-lifes? Try these easy steps if you’re unsure who you’re talking to:
- Don’t answer the phone from numbers you do not recognize.
- Don’t give out personal information over the phone.
- Don’t confirm your phone number.
- Don’t answer questions.
- If you receive a suspicious call, authorities advise people to hang up right away and call 911. If you are concerned you might have given away important information, monitor your credit activity.