In 2020, the Oregon Department of Justice issued fifteen statements specifically addressing various phone scams in Oregon, from grandparent scams to charity scams.
Several government agencies issued similar statements, all addressing specific ways scammers impersonate their officials to defraud unsuspecting residents over the phone. Besides the fact that scammers relied on the faceless nature of phone calls to carry out these scams, there were other common features.
For one, scammers typically threatened the call recipient — usually with arrests or lawsuits — unless they acceded to their requests for money. Also, scammers relied on call spoofing to change their caller identity, so the phone number displays as a known agency phone number.
These scammers have had practice and sound very convincing over the phone. But there are ways to confirm the legitimacy of a phone call and prevent scam calls. When you get a call from an unknown number, perform a reverse phone search on a database containing information registered to phone numbers in Oregon.
A phone number search will reveal the registered owner’s name, location, and address — information you can use to confirm the caller’s identity. A scammer will provide false information different from the one provided with the reverse phone search. You can then block the phone number from ever contacting you. Also, report the scam to the Oregon Department of Justice or call the hotline (877) 877-9392.
Another way to confirm the legitimacy of a phone call is to watch out for questions asking for sensitive information like full name, social security number, and bank account details. Government officials do not request these details over the phone. As a rule of thumb, if you did not make the phone call, do not give any details you are uncomfortable with sharing over the phone.
Meanwhile, consider listing your phone number on the National DoNotCall registry. This will stop telemarketing calls, but not scammers. For this, you may do a reverse phone search to spot scam calls and use the call blocking feature on your device.
Scammers impersonate government agencies and reputable businesses because the call recipient is more likely to listen and believe them.
State agencies, including the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon Department of Revenue, and the Department of Justice, have issued press releases informing residents on how these scammers operate and ways to avoid them.
These agencies also have hotlines and emails for reporting scams. The OMB is reachable on (971) 673-2700 and [email protected]. Likewise, the Department of Revenue is reachable on 800-356-4222 (toll-free) and [email protected].
If you have been a victim of a phone scam in Oregon or sent money to the scammer, report the scam immediately. Furthermore, contact your bank to initiate a chargeback or reverse the transaction. Your bank may also place a temporary hold on all transactions on your account while you change your passwords and secure the account.