Top 8 phone scams to be aware of in 2023

The ability to share and communicate digitally with each other has reached levels that would have seemed impossible even just a few decades ago. For all the wonder and possibilities that come with this, the proliferation of digital communication has also opened the door to a whole new world of scams and fraudulent activity.

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of scams since the Covid-19 pandemic. Fraudsters saw the state of confusion and uncertainty and seized the opportunity to find new ways of gaining access to people’s financial accounts and other sensitive information that could be used for illicit purposes.

Stolen money accounts for billions each year, with authorised push payment fraud – in which the victim pays for something they never receive – being the most common and lucrative type of scam.

Based on research from phone security experts, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 phone scams to watch out for in 2023.

Top 8 phone scams to be aware of in 2023

Smartphones can now do everything a computer can do. Therefore, phone scams can include scams that use apps, phone calls, messages, emails, or any other method of communication. The top 10 phone scams to be aware of in 2023 include the following:

  1. Student loan scams
  2. Cryptocurrency scams
  3. Dating scams
  4. Loved ones asking for money
  5. Vishing
  6. Google and Apple Pay scams
  7. Donation requests
  8. Pension scams

So let’s jump in and take a closer look at each of them.

Student loan scams

Student loan scams are particularly common at the start of the new academic terms (September, January, and April). Students may receive calls, texts, emails, or other communications from people claiming to be from the Student Loans Company saying there has been a problem processing their loan payment or some other issue. They will then ask for your bank account number or other personal details that they can use to commit fraud.

Graduates may also experience student loan scams in the form of fraudulent student loan relief.

Student loan relief refers to the forgiveness or partial cancellation of a student’s debt. Although scams surrounding student loan relief are bigger in the US – because the country is currently in the process of forgiving a certain amount of student debt – they do still occur elsewhere, and you should be wary of them, especially if you graduated within the last decade.

Graduates will typically receive a call, again from someone claiming to be from the Student Loans Company, saying that they are entitled to a loan relief, and their financial details are needed to complete the repayment.

Cryptocurrency scams

Cryptocurrency scams are not specific to phones, but they often start with a phone call. Crypto scams can take many forms and can include fake giveaways or prizes that request your digital wallet details. They may also share investment opportunities that lead to you sharing your details on illicit sites.

Because cryptocurrency is still relatively new and there are thousands – if not millions – of people enticed by what they see as an opportunity to make an easy buck, scammers are continuing to find new and innovative ways of defrauding online users. And because crypto is highly unregulated, it is often impossible to trace the scammers or get any financial reimbursement from the platforms they exploited.

Dating scams

Dating scams take advantage of the modern dating app phenomenon (think Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge) and target people looking for love and connection. This type of scam is not new but has taken on a modern form with the rise in the number of people who use their phones to communicate with love interests they have not yet met.

Scammers may use someone else’s identity or create entirely fake profiles on dating apps and social media platforms. They will then ensure the relationship remains entirely impersonal and online by either stating that is their desire or by coming up with repeated excuses as to why they cannot meet in person.

Once they have gained the trust of their victim, they may ask that they send money or buy them gifts. They may even coerce their victim into making investment decisions. Ultimately, they will attempt to find new and innovative ways to convince their victim to share money or sensitive information with them.

Loved ones asking for money

This scam particularly targets parents, grandparents, and carers. They will typically receive a message from a young relative that outlines a sticky situation they have found themselves in and need bailing out of.

The message will often open by saying “Hi, mum/dad,” and then proceed to explain why they need money and why they have a new number before providing the bank details for the money to be paid into.

These scams are especially nasty as they play on the fears of parents and carers that their children may be in trouble.

Vishing (Voice Phishing)

Voice Phishing (Vishing) is a name given to phone scams that are used to conduct phishing attacks. The caller is usually an automated speaker, though they can be a live caller and poses as an agent from a legitimate body – such as the police, a government branch, a company, etc. – that you trust.

People are then manipulated into passing on their information over the phone or tricked into giving the caller remote access to their computer. These scams are particularly targeted at elderly victims and immigrants.

Google and Apple Pay scams

Although using a digital payment account is generally safer than a regular current account connected to credit or bank cards, there are many online purchase scams that incorporate your Google or Apple Pay wallet.

A typical scam might involve someone contacting you with an interest in buying something you are selling online. Once you have agreed on a price, they will then say they have paid money into your account when they have not. To do this, they will create a fake Google or Apple Pay screenshot to make it look as though they have paid and the transaction has not been processed yet. Then, you will send them the thing you are selling, and the payment will never be made.

Donation requests

Scammers will often pose as callers on behalf of charities or social campaigns and causes and request donations.

Sometimes the scammers will have found out that the people they are calling already make donations to particular organizations, and they will call pretending to be from those organizations and ask for more money. Or they will make calls to people who are more likely to donate to such causes, like elderly people, and request their credit or debit card details or ask them to make payments to illicit bank accounts.

Pension scams

People of pension age – who are frequently targeted for all types of scams – may receive calls from scammers pretending to be from their pension provider. The caller might then offer to provide a free pension review or give financial advice that suggests investing in other schemes to boost the pensioner’s savings.

Another pension scam involves the caller telling people who are near pension age but not there yet, that they can access their pension savings early by transferring money from their pot into another account. Many people choose to access their pension savings early, so this can seem appealing. However, the scammer will have you make a bank transfer into an illicit account rather than one you can access.

How to avoid phone scams

Anyone can be the victim of a phone scam, and scammers are always finding new and innovative ways to defraud people out of their money. But to do your best to avoid being scammed, consider the following tips:

  • Always ask for the caller to identify themselves. If you are suspicious of a caller, ask them for their name and request to speak to their manager. If you remain suspicious, hang up and call the company they claimed to be from.
  • Don’t share your credit and debit card details over the phone. Unless you are 100 percent certain about the veracity of the caller, don’t give them your card details. Ask if you can make a different kind of payment. If you have to pay over the phone, tell them you will call them back, hang up, and redial the official number of their organization.
  • Contact your bank or card issuer if you think you may have made a payment to a fraudulent account. They may be able to cancel the payment if you contact them quickly enough.
  • Consider using a different bank account for online and telephone payments. If you use a prepaid card or a different account, the scammers will only be able to defraud a limited amount of money. However, if you give them details to your main account, they will have access to everything you have.
  • Be wary of fake or misleading adverts that invite you to call a number. If you see an offer that looks too good to be true, research the organization and its phone number before calling them.

If you are the victim of a phone scam, be sure to report it as soon as possible to give you the best chance of retrieving your money and to help stop other people from falling prey to similar scams in the future.

Related Articles

Back to top button