Incoming Scam: How To Protect Yourself From Phone Scams

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

As Cybersecurity Month continues, a local string of phone scams brings up an excellent opportunity to review both the precautions to take and aspects to watch for when taking a call from an unknown person. First let’s look at the FBI’s report on these scams.

FBI offices in at least eight states have received calls reporting a scam involving someone claiming to be an FBI agent and demanding repayment for a school loan. The originating telephone number used by the scammer is displayed or "spoofed" as that of the telephone number of the Charlotte FBI field office

The caller often knows the name of the intended victim and has called a personal cellphone number, as well as a work number. On occasion, the caller has threatened the victim with arrest and not graduating from school if the fees were not immediately satisfied via MoneyGram.

States that have been affected thus far include: NC, SC, GA, KY, OK, NE, MT and WI. 

Individuals receiving such calls can file a complaint through the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (and notify your Security Officer).

There are a number of ways people with criminal intentions can obtain your name, phone number or email address.

  • Never give out personal information to someone you did not initiate contact with.
  • Before signing up for a contest or email distribution list, make sure the business has a policy not to share your information or sell it to a third party.

Please Note: The FBI does not call private citizens requesting money.

  • Be leery of anyone you did not initiate contact with who asks for payment using a third party such as MoneyGram or prepaid cards.

If the call seems to be a cold call or generic in nature, forward your complaint to the FTC. However, if the caller has specific information about the company or employees that they shouldn’t, please visit the FBI’s reporting site: While it was initially designed for internet crimes, the FBI directs individuals to use this service for suspicious phone calls as well. (

Keep these other tips in mind:

  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support, or another service-oriented source.
  • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.

In the business world, from networking to goods and services, phone calls are a necessary means of keeping the wheels turning. With these tips, and bit of vigilance, we can make sure those wheels stay on track!