A phone scam is a scam activity that is done with the use of a telephone. Phone scams can be carried out through various methods, but they aim to obtain money and sensitive information from unsuspecting individuals deceptively.
The Oregon Department of Justice is tasked with consumer protection in the state. This includes protecting Oregonians from potential phone scams and phone spams and punishing all individuals and businesses found guilty of carrying out these scams. The state's Department of Justice does this by providing members of the public with access to online databases that allow them to search for all consumer complaints received by the department and view all archived scam alerts. Oregonians also can receive notifications on emerging scams and frauds by joining the Oregon Scam Alert Network.
Some of the most reported ways that phone scams are carried out in the state of Oregon are:
- Telemarketing scams that involve scammers fraudulently selling goods and services over the phone;
- Gift card scams that involve scammers selling gift cards that are of less value than the amount paid for them;
- Timeshare Resale scams that involve scammers offering to resell a timeshare for an upfront fee;
- Employment scams that involve scammers advertising bogus job opportunities that usually require the payment of an upfront fee;
- Impersonation scams that involve scammers pretending to be law enforcement or governmental agency officers or representatives of an organization;
- Prize and sweepstakes scams that involve scammers informing Oregonians that they have won a prize or lottery, and asking for a fee to process the winnings
What are Oregon Telemarketing Scams?
Generally, telemarketing serves as a legitimate marketing tool used by businesses and organizations to promote and sell their services and goods. Telemarketing can also be used as an avenue for scammers to defraud Oregonians by offering fake or overpriced goods and services over robocalls. Telemarketing scammers typically ask for payment to be made through a specific method, and they always try to pressure their targets into making decisions quickly. Another type of telemarketing scam involves free trial offers, where the target is convinced to try a product for free for a limited time before paying for the product. However, these offers usually have clauses that make the target pay for more products than they bargained for.
The best way to avoid falling for a telemarketing scam is by hanging up if the caller insists you make a decision quickly or tries to tell you that the offer is only good for a day or two. If you decide to try a product that has a free trial offer, always make sure that there are no hidden clauses in the offer.
What are Oregon Gift Card Scams?
Oregon gift card scams involve scammers selling gift cards that have already been used, are expired or are cheaper than their actual value to unsuspecting Oregonians. Ways to avoid falling for these types of scams are by always verifying the seller's authenticity, checking the cards for expiration dates, and making sure that the coatings over the PINs on the cards have not been scratched off before wiring any payments to the seller.
What are Oregon Timeshare Resale Scams?
A timeshare is an arrangement that provides various people with joint ownership of a property. Timeshares are sometimes bought as an investment opportunity, and scammers prey on this fact by offering to resell these timeshares for huge profits. These scammers always ask for an upfront fee, sometimes as high as thousands of dollars. In reality, the timeshares may no longer be worth the amount the scammer claims they can resell it for. To avoid falling for this scam, Oregonians are advised to avoid doing business with any reseller that contacts them through an unsolicited phone call. Another way to avoid falling for this scam is by researching all timeshare resellers. This can be done by checking if they have any complaints lodged against them with the state’s department of justice, and confirming that they are properly licensed with the Oregon Real Estate Agency.
What are Oregon Employment Scams?
In Oregon employment scams, scammers prey on unsuspecting Oregonians by offering them bogus employment opportunities. These job opportunities may be in the form of work-at-home offers, mystery buyer and shopper opportunities, or outright placements at a known firm. These opportunities always require the potential target to make an upfront payment of some sort. The scammer may claim that the payment is to facilitate the registration process or to purchase and ship necessary equipment for work-at-home jobs. In some cases, the scammer may ask the potential target to divulge sensitive information under the guise of performing a security check for the job. The best way to avoid falling for these scams is by never making any payment for a job before you have obtained adequate employment proof. Always properly research the firm that the job offer is from, and if the firm exists, make sure that they are actually hiring for the position you have been offered.
What are Oregon Impersonation Scams?
Impersonation scams are scams where a scammer contacts a potential target and pretends to be a law enforcement official or a representative of a government agency or a well-known organization. Sometimes these scammers can also pretend to be a relative of the person they contact by spoofing caller ID. In impersonation scams, the scammer always tries to convince their victims that a type of trouble that needs to be solved urgently. Impersonation scammers typically refer to their targets by name to create an air of familiarity, and they always end up requesting for money or personal information. Examples of impersonation scams include IRS scams where a target is contacted by a fake IRS agent and told to pay back taxes to avoid arrest, and grandparent scams where an elderly person is contacted by a scammer claiming to be a grandchild or relative that is in trouble and needs funds.
One way of spotting these scams is if the caller insists that payment must be made immediately. Oregonians are advised to hang up anytime this happens and contact the agency or organization that the caller claims to represent. If the call is from a person who claims to be a relative, you are advised to confirm the caller's story by contacting the parents or siblings of the person the caller claims to be.
What are Oregon Prize and Sweepstakes Scams?
In Oregon prize and sweepstakes scams, Oregonians are contacted by scammers and told that they have won a prize or lottery; however, a fee will be required to claim these winnings. In some cases, the scammers may send a check with the winnings to their target and ask that a portion of the money be wired back.
Any lottery or sweepstakes that require the payment of a facilitation or processing fee before you can claim any winnings is a scam, and Oregonians are advised to either hang up or not reply to any messages when contacted about this. Also, if you receive a check for any winnings, never wire any money back. These checks are usually counterfeit and any money sent cannot be reclaimed.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
Oregonians can avoid becoming victims of fraudsters that carry out phone scams by taking a number of proactive steps. These steps are:
- Add your number to the National Do Not Call List. Registration is free and can be done online or by calling 1-888-382-1222 with the number you want registered;
- Be suspicious of calls and messages that look like they originated overseas;
- Always remember that caller ID can be spoofed. If a number looks familiar, perform a phone lookup or a reverse phone number lookup;
- Verify all calls from callers that claim to be representatives of a law enforcement agency, a government agency, or a well-known organization. Contact details for these organizations are usually available on their websites;
- Be wary of calls that insist on immediate payment for goods and services or insist on a particular method of payment;
- Never give sensitive personal or financial information to unsolicited callers. This includes banking details and passwords;
- Always understand the terms and conditions, and look for any pre-checked boxes before accepting any free trial offers;
- Never grant remote access to your personal computer to a person that you do not personally know and trust;
- Report all scams and frauds to the Oregon Department of Justice. You can also report these scams, as well as any unwanted calls, to the Federal Trade Commission