Tennessee phone scams are fraudulent activities perpetrated over the phone with the intention of stealing valuable items such as money, passwords, or banking information from Tennesseans. Phone scammers use several devious means such as live calls, spam calls, robocalls, and text messages to defraud residents. These scammers often hide their identities and the true origins of the phone calls. Phone lookup applications can help unmask the true identities of scam callers.
The Tennessee Attorney General's Office publishes common phone scams in the state and several fraud indicators on its website. Persons who have fallen victims to phone scams may call the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-342-8385 or 615-741-4737 or visit the Division's online page to file a complaint.
Common phones scams in Tennessee include:
- IRS Scams: where a scammer poses as an employee of the IRS and threatens the target with arrest or license revocation if back taxes owed to the IRS are not paid.
- Health and Medical Scams: where an imposter attempts to sell you fake medical products or health insurance plans at a discount.
- Grandparent Scam: where a scammer calls and poses like a distressed grandchild who is in a difficult situation and asks the grandparent to send money urgently
- Gift Card Scams: where an imposter calls with a fake emergency and urges you to buy a gift card from iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon for a small fee. Once you pay, the imposter disappears with the money
- Charity Scams: where the scammer poses as a representative of a charity organization
- Voice Phishing Scams: where the scammer impersonates a reputable organization in order to obtain valuable information or money from victims
- Tech Support Scams: where the scammer poses as an employee of a reputable tech company and steals private information on a computer by obtaining backdoor access to the device.
What are Tennessee IRS Scams?
In an IRS scam, the target receives a call from someone who claims to work for the IRS. The target may be informed that certain back taxes are owed to the IRS which must be paid urgently. The impostor may even be able to provide background information on the target from information gleaned from the internet and social media sites. Such information include full names of the target, workplace, address, and part of the target's social security number. Through caller ID spoofing, IRS scammers can make their calls look like they are coming from the IRS.
An IRS scammer typically threatens a target with deportation, arrest, or license revocation if the money owed cannot be paid right away. These scammers generally opt to receive payment through gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers. In a relatively new version of the scam, criminals pose as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. These criminals contact their targets saying refunds were deposited in error and they need to forward the money to their collection agency.
What are Tennessee Health and Medical Scams?
Medical scams prey on human suffering. They offer solutions where none exist or promise to simplify complex medical treatments. Some of these scams involve fraudsters offering a range of products and services that appear to be legitimate alternative medicines promising quick and effective remedies for serious medical conditions. Treatments claim to be effective against a wide range of conditions and are promoted using testimonials from individuals who have used the product or service and have been "cured".
Some of these scammers may also call and try to sell health insurance plans that are not legitimate. These plans are usually discounted with low fees charged on services or goods. Many of these plans are not always health insurance as they do not meet the minimum coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. These scammers intend to obtain sensitive money or information from their targets which may be used in identity thefts.
What are Tennessee Grandparent Scams?
Con artists frequently engage in grandparent scams to exploit fear and emotional attachment to loved ones which is a common trait of aged persons. In a grandparent scam, a grandparent receives a phone call from an imposter who claims to be their grandchild in distress. Typical distressed situations include being in an out-of-state jail, injured while driving under the influence, paying a hospital bill, or stranded in a foreign country or faraway location.
A second caller may join in and pretend to be an attorney or law enforcement officer who confirms the initial story and requests the grandparent immediately send money by cash, gift cards, or wire transfer to pay the bail bond. The fake grandchild also pleads with the grandparent to refrain from telling other members of the family about the situation at hand.
What are Tennessee Tech Support Scams?
Tech support scammers want you to believe that there is a serious issue with your computer, such as a virus or malware that needs fixing. Tech support scammers seek to catch their targets in one of two ways; pop-up advertisements or cold calls. You may see pop-up warnings displaying on your computer screen warning that your device and the data therein are at risk of damage or loss. The display also includes a phone number to call to fix the issue.
Upon calling the advertised number, the scammer poses as a representative of a reputable tech company, such as Microsoft or Apple. The scammer uses lots of technical jargon to convince you that the computer is seriously at risk and needs to be fixed immediately by granting remote access to fix the problem.
Once these criminals gain remote access, they access all the information stored on the device for valuable items that may be stolen, such as banking passwords, PINs, and Other important credentials. You may be asked to pay for software or repair services that will not be rendered or not worth as much as quoted.
What are Tennessee Voice Phishing Scams?
Voice phishing scams typically involve the use of phone spoofing technology which allows users to imitate the caller ID information of trusted sources. Voice phishing scammers frequently mimic caller ID information from banking institutions, government agencies, utility entities in their target's local area, or a friend. The aim is to get the target to trust the source of the call and the identity of the person behind the call.
Upon getting the target to answer a spoofed call, a voice phishing scammer may offer bogus investment schemes with a high return on investments, lure the target into donating to charity causes, or use scare tactics to obtain money. Many voice phishing scammers place scam calls from long distances using Voice over Internet Protocol technology which allows users to make long-distance calls at minimal costs.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Do not trust the caller ID information on your phone's display. Scammers now use spoofing technology to imitate trusted numbers.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you hear a prerecorded message after answering a call, hang up immediately.
- Ask questions calmly and refuse to be hurried into making a decision.
- Do not reveal sensitive information about yourself over a phone call.
- Conduct your research. If you are not sure about the identity of a caller, try to investigate the phone number or identity online to authenticate their claims. Use reverse phone lookup tools to verify a phone number. Many times, phone numbers registered to scammers have been reported online in connection to a scam.
- Sign up to receive free phone scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission
- Report scammers to FTC online.
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.