Utah phone scams are fraudulent practices perpetrated by crooked persons over telephone calls with the intention of stealing money or obtaining valuables from Utah residents. Phone scammers use varying schemes, including robocalls, text messages, and live calls to coerce or lure residents into divulging sensitive personal information that may be used in identity thefts. Although uncovering the true identities of phone scammers can be difficult, Utah residents can avail themselves of phone lookup applications to help real the face or names of scam callers.
The Utah Attorney General's Office and the Department of Commerce are Utah's leading phone scam watchdogs. The Division of Consumer Protection of the Utah Department of Commerce publishes a list of common scams and tell-tale signs of scam artists in the state. Phone scams may be reported to the Office of the Utah Attorney General's Office or the Division of Consumer Protection.
Common phone scams in Utah include:
- Charity scams: scammers pose as reputable charity representatives, requesting donations for charitable causes
- Grandparent scams: scammer poses as a grandchild in distress and requests an urgent wire transfer.
- IRS scams: scammer poses as an IRS employee and threatens the target with jail or arrest if an amount of money is not paid
- Tech support scams: scammer tricks the target into allowing remote access to a computer. The scammer steals sensitive information and obtains a fee for fake tech support.
- Jury duty scams: scammer threatens a target with an arrest for failing to report for jury service. The scammer requests sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers to cancel an arrest warrant.
- Debt relief and credit repair scams: phone scammers offer to lower your cred card interest rates or get student loans forgiven if the target pays a "small" company fee
- Business and investment scams: scammer offers to help start a business or investment with the guarantee of big profits.
- Prize and lottery scams: scammer asks the target to pay a registration or shipping fee for a prize won
- Loan scams: usually targeted at persons with poor credit histories, the scammer guarantees loans or credit cards for an up-front fee.
What are Utah IRS Scams?
In an IRS scam, the target received a call from someone who claims to work for the Inland Revenue Service. The caller who is the scammer informs the target that back taxes are owed to the IRS. Some of these scammers do background research on the target which is evident in the bit of personal information shared with the target during the phone conversation. Such information includes full names of the target, workplace, address, and part of the target's social security number. Through caller ID spoofing, the caller can make their call look like it is coming from the IRS.
In an IRS scam, the scammer threatens the target with arrest, deportation, or license revocation if the target does not pay right away. The scammer's preferred method of receiving payment is usually by prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. Some of these con artists may also request payment through gift cards.
What are Utah Tech Support Scams?
In tech support scams, the scammer's initial aim is to scare you into believing that you have a serious problem with your computer, like a virus or malware. It starts with your computer suddenly freezing or throwing up pop-up messages or alerts of potential issues with the device which may harm your network, put your data at risk, or damage your business. Included on the alert is a phone number to call with a promise to fix the issue.
The scammer whose phone number is the one displayed on the alert pretends to be from a well-known tech company such as Apple, HP, Dell, or Microsoft. The criminal uses lots of technical jargon to convince you that the problems with the PC are real. Some may ask you to open some files and run a scan on the computer, the scammer points to the scan results as proof that something is wrong.
The next step is that the scammer requires you to permit remote access to the computer which will supposedly make fixing the computer possible without having to come over. Remote access grants the scammer access to all information stored on the computer and a chance to install malware that grants access to sensitive data like usernames and passwords. Some scammers in addition to installing stealing information stored on a computer will try to sell you software or repair services that are worthless or available elsewhere for free.
What are Utah Voice Phishing Scams?
In voice phishing scams, scammers try to trick targets into giving money or revealing personal information. Typically, scammers use phone spoofing technology to make their number look like it is coming from a trusted institution, company, or government agency to create a sense of legitimacy. To carry out their nefarious acts, scammers need to earn their targets' trust by the familiarity and validity that a spoofed phone call can engender.
After earning the target's trust, these scammers may ask the target to buy an extended warranty, accept an offer of a "free" vacation, or donate to charity. With the advent of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls, voice phishing has become an even more attractive proposition to scammers. VoIP allows these criminals to place several hundreds of calls simultaneously to short and long distances at low costs.
What are Utah Grandparent Scams?
As suggested by the name of the scam, grandparent scams, sometimes referred to as elderly scams, are targeted at the elderly, most especially grandparents. A scammer poses as a grandchild in need of urgent financial aid because of a difficult situation. The situation may be a need to quickly leave a foreign country, paying a hospital bill, fixing a faulty car on a dangerous road, or paying bail money. Although grandparent scams many times involve only one con artist, sometimes, two scammers may participate in the dubious scheme. The other scammer may pose as an arresting officer or a bail bondsman who uses scare tactics to get the grandparent to do their bidding.
Grandparent scammers usually request secrecy from their targets, claiming they would be embarrassed if other family members were to find out the circumstances which required urgent financial support. Wire transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram is a common way scammers request financial assistance in a grandparent scam.
What are Utah Jury Duty Scams?
Jury duty scams are common in Utah. It is a classic impostor scam where a scammer who claims to be a court employee calls a potential juror, alleging they failed to report for jury service and indicating that a warrant has been issued for their arrest. The scammer lures the target into giving away identifying information such as social security number and credit card numbers with an offer to cancel the arrest warrant.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
Do not believe the name or number your caller ID display. With spoofing technology, scammers can now mimic a name or a number you know.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you hear a prerecorded message after answering a call, hang up immediately.
- Ask questions calmly and refuse to be scared or rushed into a quick decision.
- Do not give out sensitive information about yourself to anyone online in an unexpected request.
- Conduct your research. If you are not sure about the identity of an individual, business, or service provider, research the person or business online to verify their claims. Use reverse phone lookup tools to verify the authenticity of 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 or any local law enforcement agency.
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.