The police are warning taxpayers about an old phone scam; but this time, with a new twist. According to the reports, the scammers call the victim and claim to be an IRS agent. The scammers then demand money from the victim, as a payment for the amount the victim supposedly owed IRS, and threaten that unless the victim makes an immediate payment through prepaid debit cards or money transfer services, he’s at risk of being arrested. At this point, the victim may think the call is unreasonable and refuse to pay, but what may happen next is something nobody may have predicted.
The scammers resort to a tactic called “Swatting.” As the name implies, the scammers call the local police department or an emergency hotline and make a false report regarding an emergency situation to draw a response from the law enforcers, usually a SWAT team. The scammers spoof the caller ID to make it appear that it’s the victim calling for help. Scammers are reported to “swat“ the victim for revenge or to make the victim believe that he’s about to be arrested. Either way, it is a very dangerous joke and has serious consequences.
Taking that into consideration, the authorities continue to warn people about this new type of action from the scammers and urge people to be cautious when dealing with suspicious callers on the phone.
Below are tips to avoid scam calls that may lead to swatting:
- If you get an anonymous call and there’s a delay when you answer, it’s an automated call. You don’t have to put up with the caller. Hang up.
- Use an answering machine to screen calls. Scammers don’t usually leave voice messages, or you’ll know it’s them.
- Use a caller ID to identify scammers. If you get an anonymous caller, you can easily look up the phone number at Callercenter.com to find out who’s behind the call.
- If you do answer and you realize it’s a phony caller, never argue. Simply hang up.
- NEVER give out your credit card or bank account details. You can’t be sure who the caller is or how your information will be used.
- Finally, and the most important of all, tell the police if you feel that you are being harassed or threatened.
There’s no telling when you will receive a scam call so being aware is an advantage. If you believe that you are a victim to any type of phone scam, call the Federal Trade Commission and use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the violation at FTC.gov.