Photo by Tero Vesalainen, via Sutterstock.com
We’ve all gotten them: calls or texts from phone numbers that may look familiar, but it’s hard to tell for sure. Yes, it could be from someone you know, or from a company with which you do business. On the other hand, it could be a scammer.
How can you find out for sure? And how can you protect yourself from such predators?
In general, scammers want money or information that can make them money. This means they will try to get valuable personal or business information from you directly. Or they have you give them access to your device or network, where they can get the information or money they want themselves.
In order to do this, scammers need to try and convince you that they are legitimate requestors of your information. To that end, they have the ability these days to spoof phone numbers. That way, they may be calling from all the way across the country—or even outside the U.S.—but they look like they’re calling locally.
Even by just simply answering a call or clicking a link in a text, you could give them all the access they need to infiltrate your accounts and/or your device. So, if you do not recognize a number, do not answer a call or respond to a text right away. Try and verify the legitimacy of an unknown phone number first by looking it up with a reverse phone lookup. Such a tool can reveal the owner or entity that’s actually behind the phone number.
If it turns out that the caller or texter is someone you recognize, great! All it cost you was a few seconds to confirm things.
If not, you may have just saved yourself from a scam, not to mention the time and stress of dealing with its aftermath. From there, you can simply block the number on your phone. You can also report the number to the FCC or phone scam sites as a likely scam, to help others from going through the same thing.