What do you do when you miss a call from a number you do not recognize? The first instinct may be to call back and find out who wanted to reach you. However, this is the worst thing you can do. Why? Because this may open the door to scammers.
Luckily, consumers have plenty of helpful tools at their disposal. These services will help you tell legit calls from scams.
Never Do It
Even if you see your area code, calling back is dangerous. Scammers have learned to spoof numbers for caller ID. You may think the call comes from your area when the source is actually miles away. Criminals use familiar codes to build trust. Do not let curiosity put you in danger. Otherwise, any of these four things may happen.
1. Future Scams
Calling back or even picking up can make you a target of future scams. It shows your conscious effort. The scammers will call again or try to use another ploy.
2. Personal Information
It is the worst-case scenario. Callers may manipulate you into giving away personal details like your social security number or credit card. This may lead to drastic consequences. For instance, criminals may take out loans in your name, so you will be bothered by collectors, while your credit score will plummet. Scammers can also steal money from your accounts. Do not trust anyone.
3. You Can Be Charged
If you call back, this may cost you a lot of money. If the number is connected to a sex line or another 900 system, you will be charged by the minute. The costs add up fast. For example, you may have to pay $16 for the first minute and $9 for every other minute.
4. Four-Word Phrase
If you call back and hear the phrase “Can you hear me?”, saying “Yes” can be dangerous. With a positive reply, you may be putting your data and finances at risk. Sometimes, scammers record such calls. “Yes” is exactly what they want you to say. So, what can happen next?
Scammers may use the recording to access sensitive information. Many companies use the word as confirmation of changes made to their customers’ accounts. The fraudsters may succeed in changing your security settings, making purchases, and causing other harm. As you can see, a single word can have a spectrum of drastic consequences.
In Short, Never Pick Up
When you receive a call from an unknown number — ignore it. If it is essential, the caller will leave a voicemail message. Note that scammers can exploit it, too. Never trust and always verify. If the message sounds as if it came from your bank, find the official hotline number. Do not dial the caller’s number automatically, as you may still get tricked.