What are Maryland Phone Scams?
Maryland phone scams are fraudulent activities perpetrated on Maryland residents using phone services include. They often involve regular calls, spam calls, robocalls, text messages, email messages, and internet ads. Phone scams, like every other type of scams in the State of Maryland, are handled by the State Attorney General Office, Consumer Protection Division (CPD).
The Maryland State Police identifies the following as common phone and online scams in the state:
- Free trials - A caller promises a free trial but signs you up for a product plan. Sometimes targets are registered for multiple unnecessary products, and they are billed for them every month. Ensure you do a reverse phone number lookup before granting anyone permission to sign you up for anything.
- Loan scams - Scammers offer people with poor credit loans or credit card history loans via the telephone. They then proceed to request a fee upfront to make the loan available.
- Debit relief and Credit repair scams - Scammers call and promise to offer lower credit card rates, interest rates, students loan, or other card services. This is usually followed by a request for a fee before the service commences.
- Social security scams - Scammers impersonate an official from the state's social security administration. They request sensitive information using the threat of arrest or fines.
- Police scams - Maryland State Police has warned residents of police scams where individuals pose as certified officers to defraud residents. Scammers threaten victims with arrest or the continued detention of family members in any state prisons.
- US Immigration Service Scams - Scammers impersonate members of the immigration services to defraud people. Victims are usually threatened with deportation unless they pay the requested amount.
- Spyware Scams: Fraudsters send spyware programs to attack and steal vital information on their victims’ computers and mobile devices. Spyware comes in different types, and they include online ads such as pop-up ads, add-ons, and third-party search toolbars.
- Unwanted Text Message (SMS) Spams: Scammers send unwanted spam messages to persuade a target to part with their personal and financial information.
- Nigerian Advance Fee Scam popularly called ‘419’: Fraudsters pose as Nigerian government officials or legitimate business. They often promise monetary rewards to the victim, who is expected to make a payment upfront to facilitate the business.
What are Maryland IRS Scams?
Maryland IRS scam starts with scammers spoofing IRS phone numbers to impersonate legitimate IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) numbers. They proceed to make claims about the collection of back taxes from individuals who are yet to clear their outstanding taxes. This will usually include threats of arrests by the Police.
The IRS has consistently advised that taxpayers not believe everything they hear from supposed IRS employees, irrespective of whether the number has been verified as legitimate or otherwise.
What are Maryland Emergency Scams?
Maryland Emergency scam is also known as 'Grandparents scam' or 'Family scam.' The most common victims of these scams are usually senior citizens and elderly individuals. These scams have been reported repeatedly to the Maryland state police. Families allege that they were scammed by individuals claiming to be family members in need of financial assistance. An emergency scam occurs when an individual poses as a distant family member in need of help. Sometimes, the fraudster may impersonate a family member's voice and caller ID to appear genuine. Maryland Police Department advises against making any form of payment or money transfer in response to a telephone appeal. This will give the individuals time to fact check who the caller was and the call's actual origin.
Residents may use the reverse phone lookup tool or contact any credible phone lookup service provider for the caller's details. Victims of Emergency scams should contact the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Maryland Voice Phishing Scams
Voice phishing scams occur when a con artist calls an unsuspecting target with the hope of gaining access to financial and personal information. These scammers impersonate legitimate businesses to win the target's trust and get them to do what they ask. Any caller requesting your social security number, password, and credit card information is undoubtedly a fraudster. To avoid falling victim to voice phishing scams, the Attorney General's office advised residents never to give out financial or personal information on the telephone unless they initiated the call. Residents may also fact check a phone number using a reverse phone number lookup tool and report voice phishing attacks to the Fraud Complaint Center.
Maryland Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are one of the common phone scams in Maryland. They include all the fraudulent activities perpetrated by individuals impersonating reputable tech organizations or tech workers. It occurs when a scammer posing as a certified tech worker calls a target requesting access to their gadgets to fix a problem. Scammers perpetrating this scam either want their target's personal information like username and pin or a money transfer.
In the second case, scammers infect their victim's computer with a virus and persuade them to take action to salvage the computer. They often request that the victims pay upfront to get the gadget fixed. Scammers may ask their victims to purchase up to $2000 worth of gift cards. When contacted by a strange caller claiming to be tech support, use reverse phone number lookup to verify their identity. Alternatively, residents who believe they have been scammed may contact the state's local police.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-12222. It reduces the number of unsolicited calls you receive.
- Do not give your account, check, or credit card number over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Never pay for a prize. This includes payment of postage, shipping, handling tax, or any cost associated with something a caller says you have won.
- Never allow a caller to rush you into acting immediately on any offer. Hang up if the caller insists you act.
- Do not wire money in response to a telephone appeal. Most legitimate organizations will never request money over the phone.
- Do not completely trust your phone’s caller ID, as scammers use caller ID spoofing for fraudulent purposes. Report all suspicious phone calls and SMS message spams to the Consumer Protection Decision and fill the consumer complaint form.
- Consider cell blocking or labeling when you suspect fraud.
- Never click links from sources you don't know.
- Seek more information on charity sites before giving out any money.
- Banks and government agencies will not request login details and other sensitive personal or financial details via SMS, phone call, and email.
- Use reverse phone number services to verify and clear doubts about a phone number’s authenticity and who it is registered to. It is possible to search a phone number on designated search engines to see if they have been previously reported in connection to a scam.
- Hang up on robocalls trying to sell a product or service, and do not press any button.
- Be wary of free trial offers. It is customary for companies to offer free trial offers to potential customers to try out their goods or services.
- Contact local state police if you think you have received a fraudulent call.
- Keep tabs on current trends in phone scams by keeping in touch with consumer information on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website or sign up for free email alerts from the FTC email service.