Hang up on phone scams

Image of a cell phone displaying the "possible spam" message and a finger pressing the hang up button.
Hang up on phone scams! (Rachael Wojciechowski)

Phone scams, sometimes called “vishing” or “voice phishing,” are a familiar problem. Calls meant to trick you into giving money or personal information to a criminal mostly use some common tactics, and knowing what to look for can protect your money and identity.

Some signs of a scam include calls that:

  • Ask for personal information or payments.
  • Claim you have won prizes.
  • Claim you owe money.
  • Insist you must act quickly!

There are two easy steps to protect yourself from these calls:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • If you think a suspicious call might be real, look up the number of the business, agency, or person and give them a call.

If you receive calls claiming to be from the IRS, remember that they will not call to demand payment using specific means, like gift cards or credit cards, and they will contact you by U.S. mail first. See Phone Scams and Voice Phishing (Vishing) for more information and tips on spotting and avoiding phone scams.