Sometimes scammers will call (or email) you to try to get you to pay them money. They may try to disguise themselves as a utility company or even a family member in need. You should always verify who you are talking to and if something seems suspicious, hang up.
Currently, in Missouri, there is an issue with people calling Ameren customers, pretending to be Ameren employees, and demanding they pay their bill immediately or will have their utilities turned off. Ameren has publicly said they would never do that, and will work with people who owe money. Immediately hang up if you get this suspicious call and report it to Ameren at 800-552-7583.
Top 8 most common phone scams:
- Free Vacations and Prizes – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. If someone calls you saying you’ve won something, ask for their name, their company name, and their supervisor’s name. Question them; they should know your name if they called you. Don’t pay any fees or buy any product from them to “claim your prize”, it isn’t real.
- Phishing Scams – They may try to convince you there is something wrong with your computer and will tell you that your privacy is at risk. They are just trying to get your information. Don’t tell them anything. Ask what company they work for, hang up, then call the company directly.
- Loan Scams – Whether it is for an auto loan, student loan, or payday loan, it is probably a scam. Don’t give out your information. If you need a loan, go directly to a bank and talk to them in person.
- Phony Debt Collectors – If you get a call from a debt collector, ask for their name, number, company information, and hang up. Refuse to discuss anything until you have a written “validation notice”. Immediately call your creditor to see if the collector was legitimate, if they weren’t you should report the call to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Fake Charities – One of the most common fake fundraisers is to pretend to collect money for local police and fire departments. Ask for their information and the charity’s information, then hang up. Call the real charity directly if you want to make a donation.
- Medical Alert/Scams Targeting Seniors – Senior citizens are one of the most highly targeted groups. Some scammers may call them with free prizes, like a medial alert system. Really, they are trying to gather personal information. Another common scam is to pretend to be a family member in trouble and ask for them to wire money to them. You should never wire money to someone until you know 100% that it is them and they are really in trouble.
- Warrant Threats – Scammers may call and threaten you will an arrest unless you pay a fine. The government will never call and threaten you to pay money to avoid arrest. Hang up.
- IRS Calls – This is one of the most widespread scams. They may pose as IRS agents and demand that you owe them money. The IRS will never request immediate payment over the phone. Hang up.
Abby Orscheln – Safety & Security Intern