Common Phone Scams and How to Spot them

Common Phone Scams and How to Spot them


Everyone’s received scam calls before, and we all know how annoying they can be. Some are just a nuisance, while others are more robust and can be actively scary. The best way to deal with them is to know what kinds of tactics scammers like to use.

If you’re looking to be able to more effectively screen scam calls, read on for our tips on how to spot the common scams.


If you get a call from a clearly automated system, it’s pretty safe to discard any threatening or seemingly fraudulent things they say. A robot telling you that you’re behind on a car payment or that you missed jury duty and owe the state money is almost assuredly a scam trying to part you from your hard-earned cash. You can safely ignore pretty much any “sale offer” from a robocall, too.

Robocalling is very easy to set up with computer programs. A simple program can create the spoken dialogue the robocall delivers, and can then randomly generate phone numbers to reach every phone line in a given region. As such, these low-effort scams are numerous, but thankfully easy to spot and discard.

Threatening Calls

The classic “you’re late for a payment” or “we’ve been trying to reach you about your taxes” calls are often the most effective of scam calls. These scams scare the victim into thinking they’re in some kind of trouble and need to send the person on the other end of the phone call money in some way to rectify a situation.

Here’s the thing: bill collection and tax issues are never conducted over the phone like this. It’s simply not how such agencies do business.

Anyone trying to collect money from you on the phone, when they called you, is likely to be scamming you. If they do legitimately need to collect money from you, they will send you physical mail with a collection notice. It’s safe to discard these types of calls, too.

Gift Card Scams

The most glaring red flag of any scam is if the person on the other end of the phone demands payment in the form of gift card codes. This is a common scam tactic that allows the scammer to sidestep law enforcement efforts, as using gift card codes is often untraceable, and the money used by the gift card recipient is unrecoverable, unlike wire transfers or cash.

So, if someone tells you to pay for something in the form of gift card codes, it’s safe to assume they’re just trying to rip you off.