As I sit down to write this I got a phone call. It was a local number but no indication of who it was.
Like most reasonable people I figured I would answer it. I do run a business and often need to speak to new or existing clients.
You can almost always tell when it’s a telemarketer or a scam because there’s a delay in someone responding to you answering the phone.
This time it was someone representing a chimney cleaning company. Another telemarketer or worse, a possible scam.
My response “I don’t have a chimney” to which he hung up. They clearly did zero research before calling me. Another turn-off.
How Is a Chimney Cleaning Telemarketer a Scam?
That’s an easy one. I worked with a local chimney cleaner and his business before. He told me about how his industry has taken a turn for the worse because of these scams.
There are a few ways it can go.
1. They get you to agree to clean your chimney at a very reasonable price. You agree, pay a deposit and never hear from anyone again.
2. They get you to agree to clean your chimney at a very reasonable price. You agree, pay a deposit and they send someone who has no idea what they’re doing. This is probably worse because of the potential damage to your home.
3. They get you to agree to clean your chimney at a very reasonable price. You agree, pay a deposit. Someone shows up to your home claiming to be there to clean your chimney. You become the victim of a home invasion.
None of these scenarios are ideal. They all hurt the real chimney cleaners. Now people are hesitant to hire anyone to clean their chimney.
What Are Some of the Other Potential Phone Scams?
Let’s start with the more prevalent and obvious ones.
The IRS is Going to Arrest You
Well, they might if you are defrauding them.
But they’re not going to call you to warn you about it.
The IRS does not call people. They send letters.
Let me type it again. The IRS does not call people.
If you get a call from John with an Indian accent calling you from what sounds like the boiler room just hang up. Or do like I do and toy with them.
Microsoft Detected a Virus on Your Computer
Microsoft does not proactively monitor people’s computers.
Even if you use Windows Defender for your anti-virus they will not call you to let you know you have a virus.
I see this a lot. A computer user has allowed someone to remotely connect to take a look at their computer because they called and said their computer was infected with a virus.
DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE WHO CALLS YOU OUT OF THE BLUE TO ACCESS YOUR COMPUTER REMOTELY.
What they’re really after is a backdoor into your computer. They will likely install something that will give them access to your computer whenever they want.
Why Do They Do This?
Because they can
Because they want to watch you on the webcam
Because they want to steal private or sensitive information
Because they want to use your computer as a bot
The reasons are numerous. And many times, you may not even know they have control of your computer. Just do not allow this to happen.
You Won a Vacation or a Cruise.
And all they want is a deposit to your hold your spot. Why would you ever give money to someone you have never spoken to over the phone and without a piece of paper clearly stating what it’s for and who is delivering it?
This really can be applied to almost anything. If you receive a call out of the blue stating you won something just hang up.
They’re going to ask you for a deposit. My response is always, take it out of the winnings. They always have some excuse why they cannot do that.
We Have a Refund for You or Here’s $300 to go Shopping
This one has gotten some people close to me.
The caller states that they have a refund check or a check for some other reason.
In one instance that I am aware of a friend got a phone call saying they would get a $300 check to use at Walmart. All they had to do was report back on how the shopping experience was.
There are legitimate jobs for mystery shoppers, but they don’t give you $300 to spend. They will give you maybe $10 and you get reimbursed for it, not paid in advance.
What Are They After?
They want you to deposit the check. They then use the deposited check to gain access to your account. Then your account gets wiped out.
Up to $250,000 in Funding for Your Business
I own a business. The business does not make $250,000/year. Not even close. Why would anyone want to offer that kind of money?
I have not figured this one out yet, but I do know I am not falling for it. They call me every day. Different numbers, different “lenders”. It’s an obvious scam.
The one thing I know for sure is they will ask for access to my invoices which I am not comfortable with for various reasons.
Business owners get scammed too. They get scammed at an alarming rate.
These are just a few of the more common phone scenarios that I have come across. I also get calls about back and shoulder pain, dentist and health insurance. I don’t even bother wasting my time listening to their pitch at this point.
These are only phone scams. These and other scams happen on Facebook, email and the internet in general as well. I have seen text message scams too.
The one thing they all have in common is preying on people’s emotions. More (or less) money, computer issues, vacations, and health.
All issues that can be very emotional, primarily fear, cause people to react with their emotions rather than logic.
When you think with emotion you make rash decisions. When receiving a call (or email, facebook message or text) from a complete stranger put emotions to the side to avoid being scammed.