Join the Do Not Call Registry. Add your telephone number(s) to the National Do Not Call Registry by phone at 1-888-382-1222 or online at https://www.donotcall.gov. Remember to register both your landline and your cell phone numbers. Registration is free and permanent. If your number is in the registry, it is illegal for telemarketers to call you.
Wait. Con artists need you to act quickly, so don’t give them the satisfaction. If someone calls with an emergency, do not do anything immediately. Instead, take the following steps to determine the authenticity of the call.
Ask questions. Questioning can throw off a scammer and expose the scam. Ask for details that can help you with the next step.
Confirm. If it’s an emergency call, and someone is supposedly hurt or in trouble, independently verify that this is true. Call the person directly. Or call family members or friends to see if they know where the person is. Call the hospital where the person is supposed to be. Contact the employer.
Do not disclose any confidential information if someone calls claiming to be from a financial institution of which you are a member (say, your bank). Tell them you will need to call them back, and call back using a number that you know is legitimate – from your bank statement or ATM card.
Don’t wire money. If this is a recurring theme, it’s because wiring money is as good (or bad) as sending cash. There ain’t no getting it back.
Keep quiet. Do not engage in conversation with cold callers. Consider all incoming calls suspect until you have confirmed the identity of the caller. There is no need to ever provide any personal information over the telephone to a stranger during an unsolicited phone call.
Do not donate to charities over the telephone. Legitimate charities have numerous ways of receiving donations. There is no reason to donate over the telephone and many reasons not to.
Report harassing phone calls. If you are being called repeatedly by the same people, contact your phone company to find out what their policy is regarding harassing phone calls. If the calls are threatening, contact your local police department.
Do not call back using a number the caller has provided. Do not be fooled by caller ID. Scammers have the software to alter their phone number so it appears that they are calling from a familiar or local number even when they are calling from overseas.
Never invest in a stock or fund pitched over the phone. Enough said.
Contact the authorities. As always, if you feel you’ve been targeted by a scam, even if you haven’t paid out any money, contact the police department. This can help them warn other potential victims.