Phone Scams

More than just being an irritating, unsolicited caller, phone scammers are predators and want you to willingly give up your money, usually out of fear. Knowing the tactics and trusting your instinct can help you keep from becoming a victim of a phone scam.

Scam Types

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but these are some frequently used scam types.

  • The warrant scam: They tell you that you or a loved one has an arrest warrant, but that you can take care of it by paying money immediately.
  • The kidnapping scam: The caller tells you they have your loved one and you need to pay money for their safety. They may use detailed victim information, usually obtained from social media posts.
  • Swatting: Someone calls dispatchers claiming that a serious crime has happened at your address, causing a large police response. This is used as harassment of the victim.
  • "Yes" scam: The caller merely asks, "Is this Jane?" (using victim's name). When the victim says "Yes," the caller hangs up. Scammers then use the recording as proof that you authorized something, such as a new credit card. It's important to monitor your credit report if you think this has happened to you.

Common Themes

  • There is a sense of urgency: "We need the money before court closes today." "You need to send something immediately." "Go to the ATM now."
  • Veiled or overt threats; creating fear: "We will issue a warrant for your arrest." "We will hurt your grandson."
  • Displays of authority: Using word such as agent, director, or law enforcement titles to provide false authenticity.

Phone 'Spoofing'

  • Caller ID spoofing alters the information forwarded to caller ID to hide the number the call is being made from, replacing it with a different number.
  • While there are legitimate uses for this technology, scammers use it to take advantage of victims.
  • The FCC prohibits using Caller ID spoofing with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Empower Yourself!

  • Don't trust caller ID
  • Ask for a phone number to call back - but always look one up yourself.
  • Know your local agency.The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office will never call people about warrants or ask for payment to cancel a warrant (that doesn't involve posting bond).
  • The IRS will not call you about back taxes!
  • Keep social media accounts private. Any personal information can make a scammer believable.
  • Just hang up!

PDF of Phone Scam Information

View some of our videos related scam types and warnings.