To protect yourself and your loved ones from hoaxes or scams, it is important to know how to recognize hoax calls. Not every fake call you receive is as silly or harmless as inquiring if your refrigerator is running or if you have Prince Albert in a can. Hoax calls can be a means for someone to upset you and/or bring you to financial ruin. Know when to hang up the phone. Ask yourself some questions about each call you receive in order to recognize hoax calls.
- Does the caller clearly identify himself? When you answer your phone and it is someone you don't know, keep in mind that the person on the other end may not be who he says he is, or his business may not be legitimate. Does the caller's number come up on your caller ID? If not, they may have some reason for hiding it from you. Do you know, or can you verify, who you are talking to? If his phone number is available to you, then ask yourself questions like these: Does the location he says he is in match his area code? Does his number match that of the business he claims to be associated with? Is he calling from a location that is notorious for scams?
- Do you know him or have business with him? How did the caller get your contact information? If you don't know the person or do not have business with them, they probably want something from you, and it could be a hoax call. Especially regard this caller with suspicion if he claims to have business with you that you have no prior knowledge of, or claims to know someone close to you when that person has never mentioned them before. Why not decide who you want to do business with yourself, or speak to the person close to you directly?
- Does the caller ask for sensitive information? A legitimate business will usually refrain from requesting personal information over the phone. When you can avoid it, and you usually can, don't provide information related to your financial or personal identification over the phone. Recognize these hoax calls and don't give a hoax caller the tools he needs to steal your identity or your money.
- Can you call him back? When you do need to provide personal information, make a point of calling the person or business directly so that you can confirm who you are talking to. If the person declines to let you contact them, you may have recognized a hoax call.
- Is what he tells you reasonable? There could be a reason a caller doesn't want to give you a chance to think their claims or requests over. Someone who is respectful of your well-being will want to carefully consider the information they are giving you.
- Is the caller too insistent? Keep in mind that if there is a genuine emergency, you will be contacted by the person you know or an official. If you hear news that needs a response from you from any other source, contact an official, or at least someone you already know and trust, before you proceed.
When your phone rings, ask yourself some questions about the identity and purpose of the caller, and take the time to discover or research the answers. When it comes to recognizing hoax calls, it is better to be safe than sorry. Hoax calls don't have the kind of punch lines you can laugh about. Recognize hoax calls. Don't let these callers waste your time, and keep your personal information to yourself–don't let the joke be on you.