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1. Few days go by without the phone ringing from another scam — IRS, Apple, auto warranties, insurance, and most recently Social Security. They are endless and exhausting. That leaves many people stopping from picking up calls from unknown phone numbers. If someone needs to contact you, they can leave a message.

2. Scammers are getting sophisticated, like using numbers that look local and other tactics. One of the most common phone scams involves someone calling from the IRS. They say you owe them money and threaten legal action. Don’t fall for it. The IRS will never call you. They will initiate their contact through the U.S. Postal Service.

3. Some scams use a voice recording. The more you talk, the more likely you will give the crooks information they can use on their next attempt. Your best line of defense is to hang up immediately. If you have lost money or have given out personal information, you are unlikely to get your money back. However, there are steps you can take right away to limit the damage — report scams to law enforcement, tell your family and friends, contact your financial institution, change your online passwords and contact the Social Security Administration. Remember your best line of defense is do not answer the call or hang up immediately.

4. Gift card scams are a recent development. People are asked to pay with gift cards by a caller claiming to be from the IRS, tech support or a family member in need. Don’t fall for that either, or the scammer is calling to say your insurance or auto warranty is about to lapse. They then proceed to ask you to provide personal information so they can “renew” the policy. Call your insurance representative to confirm all is well. And the most recent scam involves a caller claiming to be from the Social Security Administration claiming your number was suspended. Never give or confirm your Social Security number to anyone.

Karen Speidel is the News-Monitor Media Managing Editor

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