Tag Archives: phone

Fun with Phone Scams

It seems that telephone scams are alive and well even in this digital age.  Several times a week I’ll get a phone call (on my cell phone) from a number I don’t recognize.  Sometimes I don’t answer.  Sometimes I do.

Recently I decided to answer one of these calls and ended up listening to a computer voice tell me that this was my last chance to save money on my student loans before certain federal programs end.  Since my student loans have been paid off for a very long time, and I also happen to know more than a little about federal student aid programs (such as that no federal student aid programs are currently scheduled to end), I decided that I would try to have a little fun.

The computer voice told me to press 5 if I knew my FSA ID or 8 if I needed help retrieving it.  So this was a cue to me that the mission of this scammer was likely to get my FSA ID and use that to retrieve other private information about me (like my Social Security number and birth date).  I pressed 5 and then was put on hold for a minute or so.  This seemed weird since I was on the receiving end of the phone call.  But I held.  I wanted to play.  Eventually I was greeted by someone who asked if I was having trouble making my student loan payments.  I said that no, that wasn’t really a problem, and then they promptly hung up.  But much to my delight, they called back just a few minutes later, so the game could continue.  I pressed 5 and waited my turn again.  And this time the voice on the other end asked me if I had student loans.  I said that I assumed they knew I did, since they had called me about this issue.  Again…a hang up.

The student loan people have not called me back since that day.  My game wasn’t much fun.  I’ve had financial aid administrator friends keeps folks like this on the line for up to half an hour.  My experience pales by comparison.  But the message was received.  Phone scammers are out there, disguised as student loan consolidators.  Beware if you get a call from these folks.  They are not trying to help you.  And if you do have questions or concerns about your student loans, your answers are best found with either your loan servicer or your friendly neighborhood Financial Aid Director in suite 105 of the Katz Building.  And never give out any personal information on a telephone call you did not initiate.


The Ongoing IRS Phone Scam


We’re in the heart of income tax season, and the scam artists are all over it.  It happens every year.  Scammers contact taxpayers by telephone, posing as the IRS, telling the tale that the taxpayer owes a back income tax debt of several thousand dollars.  They will threaten things like arrest, deportation, or driver’s license revocation if the tax bill is not paid immediately.  And they will insist that this bill be paid by credit card.

You can see where this is going.  The victim gives the credit card number to the phony IRS agent on the phone and then the fraudulent charges happen.  This leaves the victim with a huge mess to clean up.

So here’s what you need to know.  If you are surprised that the IRS is contacting you, then it’s more than likely NOT the IRS contacting you.  The IRS will never call you to collect a tax debt without having first sent a paper bill by US Mail.  The IRS will never ask for a credit card number over the phone.  If you think you may owe a tax debt, you should contact the IRS directly at their phone number, 1-800-829-1040.  If you happen to hear from one of these scammers…hang up.  Do not return their calls.  And if you feel ambitious….report them to the authorities.  You can learn more here.