In Idaho, a phone scam is a fraudulent activity that seeks to obtain money and sensitive information from Idahoans through phone calls and other telecommunications services. The Consumer Protection Division of Idaho’s Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcing the various laws that protect Idahoans from unfair and deceptive acts and practices. This office regularly publishes consumer alerts that inform Idahoans of the latest scams uncovered in the state. Idahoans can also submit complaints to this office.
There are various ways that con artists use phones to try to defraud unsuspecting Idahoans. The most commonly reported methods are:
- Impostor scams that involve con artists pretending to be representatives of a well-known establishment, usually a government agency or a financial institution
- Grandparent scams that involve con artists targeting senior citizens
- Lottery scams that involve con artists obtaining money from unsuspecting Idahoans through claims of lottery winnings
- IT support scams that involve con artists obtaining sensitive information from Idahoans by pretending to be computer technicians
- Employment scams that involve con artists obtaining money from Idahoans through offers of fake employment opportunities
- Funeral and cemetery scams that involve con artists targeting grieving widows and widowers
What are Idaho Impostor Scams?
An Idaho impostor scam is a scam where a con-artist tries to obtain money from unsuspecting Idahoans by pretending to represent a well-known establishment. Most scammers pretend to be either government officials or staff of financial institutions. Examples of the impostor scam are the IRS and Social Security Number scam. In the IRS scam, impostors claiming to be IRS officials tell their targets that they owe back taxes. The scammers claim that these tax problems can be solved through the payment of a fee, usually in gift cards. In the Social Security Number scam, the scammers tell their targets that another person is using their Social Security Number. Sometimes, the scammer may even mention some digits from their target's Social Security Number and ask them to recite the rest for verification. This scam aims to obtain sensitive personal information.
Idahoans can avoid falling victim to impostor scams by never revealing sensitive personal information over the phone and never sending payment of any kind to people that claim to be representatives of an establishment. Always verify the legitimacy of these callers by contacting the establishment that they claim to represent.
What are Idaho Grandparent Scams?
Idaho grandparent scams are scams that mostly target older Idahoans. In these scams, the con artists contact potential victims and claim to be their grandchild. The con artist then tells the target that they are in trouble and need monetary assistance. In some instances, the caller may claim to be a friend of the victim’s grandchild or a law enforcement official trying to help them. In grandparent scams, con artists always ask their targets not to inform their parents about the call. They may claim that their parents would punish them if they find out.
Elderly Idahoans contacted by people claiming to be their grandchildren or relatives are advised to never send money to the caller until they confirm that the person is really their grandchild and is actually in trouble.
What are Idaho Lottery Scams?
In Idaho lottery scams, a con artist contacts a potential target and claims that the person has won a lottery or sweepstakes that can only be collected after a small fee has been paid. In most cases, the con artist sends a check for the winnings deposited in the bank and asks the potential target to wire back a small processing fee. However, these checks are always fake checks that get rejected after a few days.
The best way to avoid falling victim to an Idaho lottery scam is to never send any form of payment before claiming lottery or sweepstakes winnings. Lottery scams often rely on robocalls to find unsuspecting targets. Take steps to remove your phone number from robocall lists and report illegal robocallers.
What are Idaho IT Support Scams?
In Idaho IT support scams, con artists’ main aim is to steal sensitive financial information from their victims. In these scams, con artists contact unsuspecting Idahoans and tell them that a virus or malware has infected their computers. They impersonate legitimate IT support staff by employing caller ID spoofing. These con artists claim to be computer technicians that can get rid of the virus for a fee. The con artists may outrightly request remote access to the computer by saying that it is necessary to properly delete the virus or malware. Sometimes, the con artists send their targets links to anti-virus software to be used against the virus. In reality, the software grants the con artists remote access to their targets’ computers.
To avoid falling victim to an IT support scam, never grant anyone remote access to your computer. Also, never click on links in pop-up messages that you receive.
What are Idaho Employment Scams?
In Idaho employment scams, con artists prey on job-seeking Idahoans by offering them enticing employment opportunities. In reality, these jobs do not exist. Targets are always told that they need to make a payment before starting the job. The reason for this payment may differ. Sometimes, the con artist may claim that the payment is necessary to purchase office equipment for the new job. Other times, the con artist may claim that the payment is for a compulsory background check that must be carried out before the target can begin working.
Idahoans are advised never to send any form of payment to a potential employer. Always independently verify that the company exists. If it does, confirm that the job opportunity you were offered is available.
What are Idaho Funeral and Cemetery Scams?
In funeral and cemetery scams, con artists try to extort money from grieving Idahoans by taking advantage of their emotional vulnerability. In these scams, con artists and fraudulent funeral homes contact the spouses and relatives of recently deceased Idahoans and offer them funeral packages that are either exorbitantly priced or are filled with additional hidden charges. A variant of this scam involves con artists contacting the spouses or relatives of recently deceased Idahoans and claiming that the deceased person had an outstanding debt with them.
Grieving Idahoans are advised to delegate funeral arrangements to a trusted relative or third-party. If this is not possible, always ask for detailed price lists and read all contracts properly before signing. Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a decision.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
Con artists always come up with various ways to defraud their victims. You can avoid falling victim to these phone scams by taking precautionary steps:
- Use a reverse phone lookup service to identify unknown callers
- Never reveal sensitive financial information over the phone.
- Hang up if a caller insists you make a decision quickly.
- Hang up if you feel suspicious or threatened in any way.
- Never wire money or send gift cards to people that you do not know. Money sent like this is usually irretrievable.
- Research methods for blocking unwanted calls. You can contact your phone service provider and find out the call blocking options they have available. You can also download an app for this.
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call List.
- Inform the Idaho Office of the Attorney General if a phone scammer has contacted you. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.