In today’s Internet age, scams are much more common than anyone who has fallen victim at any point would like to admit. It’s easy to imagine one is mentally strong enough to recognize suspicious activities and report them immediately. However, as individuals become more aware of scam tactics, scammers learn to up their game. Hence, the reason for more education on scam calls, standard manipulation techniques, and what to do in any given situation.
Keep reading if you’re interested in the correct information to also up your game on how to recognize and avoid scam calls.
Scammers often tend to deploy psychological mechanisms. Below are common tactics you should be aware of.
1. Urgency and fear
The most common tactic is a sense of urgency and fear. The potential victim acts irrationally, often without thinking it through. For urgency, the caller usually gives a deadline of 24 hours, claiming that if sensitive information like passwords, bank details, etc., is not provided, a breach of privacy will occur. This triggers a fight or flight response in the target, often causing irrational actions. This is very similar to what happens when fear is employed to manipulate. Frequently, the fall of the victim lies in impulsive decision-making.
Scammers understand that humans are more readily disposed to divulging information to someone they trust or an authority figure like the government, banks, and other relevant institutions. With this in mind, they make calls pretending to be from the government, any bank, or some other relevant institution. The authority with which the call is made usually makes the victim reveal their private information.
Scammers assert their authority by pretending to be professional. They start by requesting information the potential victim considers public, like email addresses, phone numbers, and so on. When an unsuspecting person loses their guard, scammers then move on to more confidential information.
The previous tactic leads to this. To exploit trust, the caller pretends to be a close friend, family member, colleague, or other trusted person. Unknown to the individual that the number has been hacked or hijacked, sensitive data is divulged.
It’s also possible that the scammer exploits trust by requesting money for some improbable reason, like emergency health care bills or an urgent financial need for which they can’t explain the reason. Sometimes demanding, they request that it be sent immediately or within a short time frame because of how urgent it is.
This method is more commonly used as a romantic method. People looking for love, company, or a sense of belonging are usually the ones who fall for this. There is a period of supposedly building a connection through constant communication and “love vibes” that make the person vulnerable. Over time, a sense of trustworthiness is created. It starts by requesting small amounts of money that might be returned until the target amount is eventually requested. The affected person is less likely to report, considering it’s someone they have an emotional attachment to. Usually, it’s too late by the time they realize they have been scammed.
Those who use this method play on human emotions of wanting to help someone in need. They sound distressed and are quick to name a certain amount of money they need. Some take the route of “send whatever you have.” They may have a baby crying in the background and claim they need financial assistance.
Even worse, some pretend to represent charitable organizations needing donations for a respectable cause. They may give an accurate or pseudo name to achieve their aim of siphoning money off unsuspecting individuals.
As opposed to exploiting fear, calls that assert that you have just won a lottery or have been selected to receive some money you weren’t expecting are just as helpful in creating excitement that impedes rational decision-making. The next thing is usually a request for a turn to secure the gift or cash prize. When the person is committed, they lose money and never get the promised reward.
Scam calls are quite common these days, and that’s why it’s essential to know what to do.
1. Find out who stands behind the number.
After someone calls you and asks for personal information or claims that you have won a prize, quickly hang up and reverse search the number on Nuwber. It’s also wise to reverse search the number by area code to speed up the process. If a call is made from Texas, then you’ll spot the 210 or 281 area code in the number. The same works with other states. All you need is the first three numbers.
2. Have a healthy skepticism.
It always helps to have a healthy level of skepticism. This will keep you from believing every cock and bull story regardless of the angle or emotions.
3. Never divulge sensitive information.
Except in scarce circumstances where you have thoroughly verified the authenticity of a call, keep personal information private. Bank details, card pins, or other means of verification that should ordinarily not be requested should never be shared.
4. Question what you’re not comfortable with.
Should you receive a call, even from someone you trust, be bold to ask questions. Why exactly do they need the money? Ask for details about the circumstances leading to a financial need. It is, after all, your money, and you deserve to know where it will go in case you decide to donate it.
5. Rationalize your decisions.
Instead of giving in to the urge to respond immediately, calm down. Objectively consider the situation. Resist any pressure to rush into an impulsive decision. Anyone pressuring you to send personal information or money immediately likely has ill intentions.
6. Trust your instincts.
Your gut feeling is often more dependable than you may think. Trust your instincts, especially when the situation is suspicious.
Manipulation techniques extend to emails, texts, malicious sites, and whatever you can think of. Calls, on the other hand, are usually more dangerous. One of the reasons is that you don’t have time to think. People are often forced to act fast, without considering all the details.
It’s, however, possible to prevent the undesirable consequences. Always find out who stands behind the number, be skeptical, never give out personal information to just anyone, question what you’re not comfortable with, rationalize your decisions, and trust your instincts no matter what.