A number of us still have home phones, but it’s something we see less and less these days. Frankly, it just seems to be bait for scam telephone calls in today’s world. The only reason I still have a home phone number is that GCI told me that if we got rid of it, our monthly payment would actually go up due to the “package plan” we’re currently on. I’ll have to do some research in the cable/internet/telephone market arena one of these days and look at the alternatives. Anyway, back to the topic! It may also be that scam callers do their online research and target certain age groups as well. Here are some examples of calls I received in the latter half of 2015 on my home phone:
I received a call with a recorded message. The message did not mention any names or identify who the call was intended for. In the message, a female identifying herself as an “officer” with the IRS said she was calling to warn the recipient to call back immediately or the IRS would take immediate action. Caller ID showed the number as 585-444-7121, a New York area code. I knew immediately that this was a scam and typed the phone number into my online search engine. I was amazed at the findings. Hundreds and hundreds of people had received similar scam messages and phone calls from the same phone number and had posted information online. Apparently, this is a scam originating from outside the U.S. using technology to route their calls through a New York number.
I was inspired by my research to call the number back. A male with a foreign accent answered, “Internal Revenue Service”. I could hear other people talking in the background with foreign accents, as if it were a call center. I immediately asked him if he was operating from India or Pakistan and he replied “Pakistan”. I asked him why he was a participant in this scam and he told me that it was due to “a lack of jobs and income”. He was actually somewhat cordial on the phone, but hung up on me within a minute. I don’t know if there was any honesty in his answers, but yes….THIS IS A SCAM. APD said I was the 5th caller reporting the IRS scam phone call that morning and suggested posting online and/or reporting to the IRS, FCC or FBI. The IRS simply doesn’t call Americans! With that said, I received several more similar “IRS calls” in subsequent weeks.
Later, the scam calls switched to a different theme. Over the following weeks I received half a dozen calls from scammers with foreign accents claiming to be from “Window’s Support” and that they had detected significant errors in my “home computer”. They all wanted me to sit down at the computer and tell them what was on the screen. In each case, I replied “icons”. In almost every case I was then asked to look at my “keyboard and press the 2nd key from the left on the bottom row” and they would resolve my problems. I never did, because I wasn’t going to allow them access in any way, shape or form. With that said, I played along with them on several occasions. One time, I asked where the caller was calling from and he replied, “San Jose, California”. Since I had already completed a quick online check and determined the caller’s phone number had a Georgia area code, I said, “I meant, which country are you calling from….India, Pakistan? He said, “No, San Jose, California.” I then said, “Why would I be getting a scam call from Silicon Valley.” He immediately hung up. By the way, these scammers use fake caller ID numbers. It’s easy to do if you’re in the scam business!
Another “Windows” caller with a foreign accent said he was calling from San Jose as well. I asked him if San Jose was in Nevada and he said yes. Then I said, “OK, so you’re right next door to Chicago then”….and he said yes. I played along with him for another 10 minutes before he gave up and hung up.
Bottom line! Be aware that there are a number of scams taking place around the world these days. Both the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts and Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx have information on their websites about these scams and how to report them. It’s a constantly changing environment, so be sure to report scams in order to keep enforcement and protection up-to-date.