Unsolicited phone calls from people you don’t know can be irritating, but they can also be cleverly malicious.
Phone scammers contact you appearing to come from a legitimate source like the police, FBI, IRS, banks, service providers, or customer support for Apple, Amazon, or Microsoft. Similar to email phishing scams, the caller will make claims that require immediate action from you: you have a warrant out for your arrest, you have unpaid fines, or your personal information has been compromised. The caller will then request your personal information or payment to resolve the issue. They will use the information you provide to fraudulently charge your account.
What can you do to avoid phone scams?
Best practice is to let unrecognized calls go to voicemail. If the caller leaves a message that appears to be legitimate, call the company back but DO NOT use the number provided in the message. Instead call the number on the back of your card for your bank or go to the company’s website and look up their main customer support number.
NEVER provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited phone call including Social Security numbers, birth date, address, account numbers, PIN numbers or CVV codes.
Students, faculty and staff who have provided personal or financial information to a phone scam is urged to contact University Police by calling 304-293-COPS (304-293-2267) and file a report immediately. Please do not email.
More Tips From Tips From University Police
If you are contacted by someone who claims there is a warrant for your arrest or is claiming to collect a debt that you do not owe, you should:
- Ask the caller for name, company, street address and telephone number.
- Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Contact local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
- If you have already given out information about your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank(s) and credit companies. Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
- If you have received a legitimate loan and want to verify that you do not have any outstanding obligation, contact the loan company directly.
- File a complaint at http://www.IC3.gov.