Here’s Clark’s #1 rule for avoiding phone scams

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Phone scams, which used to be limited solely to landlines or our “house phones,” are now increasingly coming to our cellular devices.

And with our personal information spread out across so many places now, it’s getting very hard to tell what’s a suspicious phone number and what’s not.

Is it a phone scam? Here’s Clark’s #1 rule on how to tell

Things are getting so bad, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently put out a warning about scam callers posing as utility companies. The FTC says whatever you do, “Don’t pay. It’s a scam. It’s not the utility company on the phone. It’s a scammer trying to trick you into paying them. How can you tell? The caller wants you to pay by wire transfer or with a gift card. No matter the story, that’s a sure sign of a scam.”

While that one may be relatively easy to sniff out, some of these phone scams are getting hard to spot.

Clark’s way to detect a scam: ‘It’s a simple rule’

Money expert Clark Howard says he’s got one surefire way of handling potential phone scams.

“Consider following my rule,” he says. “It’s a simple rule: If I don’t recognize the number as being from someone I know, I do not answer the call.”

If you do answer the call, you may be rewarded by saving precious minutes on the phone with a scammer who thinks they have a victim. See, scammers not only milk you of your hard-fought money, they waste your time as well. Listen in on how one phone scam posted on Youtube went:

Clark says that if you’re in the habit of answering suspicious or unknown calls, it’s easy to fall prey to phone scams.

“Just before I went on the air today, I had a phone call come in that said it was from Bank of America,” he says on a recent podcast. “I don’t do business with Bank of America, so I knew it was a pretexting call, a fake call. But what if I was a customer of BOA and I see that come up on caller ID, I might be more apt to answer it, right?”


But: If your bank actually needs to talk to you, they’re going to leave you a voice mail.

Suspect it to be a scam call? Here’s what to do

Clark says to find out if you’ve received a legit phone call from an entity that needs to talk to you, “call the number that you KNOW to be the financial institution.”
“Because even when it’s a place you don’t do business with, the caller may be phony, the situation they’re calling you about may be a con. Don’t get taken,” Clark says.

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