While the internet has brought us a great many resources, it’s also caused its share of problems. One of the greatest double-edged swords the internet has to offer is a wealth of information. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you can find it on the internet.

Because information is so readily available online, it’s easy for people to figure out your phone number. Once somebody has your phone number, there’s a good chance you’ll become the target of a phone scam at some point—especially those targeting college students. Here are some of our best tips for avoiding these phone scams and keeping your money and identity safe.

1. Watch for Signs

Scammers are constantly finding ways to reinvent themselves and make their scams harder to detect, but there are almost always a few warning signs you can look out for if you want to spot a phone scammer. One of the biggest mistakes phone scammers often make is slipping up when telling you what organization or business they’re calling from. If somebody is calling you claiming to represent a student loan company, make sure the company they’re talking about actually exists.

Other signs to watch for include callers who ask for personal information such as your social security number or any financial information, such as your bank account information or credit card number. You may also be threatened with legal action at some point, which is another telltale sign that somebody is trying to intimidate you for financial gain.

2. Screen Calls

There was a time when telemarketers would call from fairly predictable numbers, and it was easy to tell when somebody was calling you who you didn’t know. That time has passed now that there are so many cell phone prefixes and technology has allowed scammers to hide more easily. These days, you may get a phone call from a number that was spoofed (changed, essentially) to look like a phone call from a local number.

If you’re repeatedly receiving calls from a phone number or somebody is calling you asking for personal information, you can use a reverse phone lookup service to search any cell phone number and figure out who it belongs to. This includes a full name, address, email address and more. Or try a search or lookup service.

3. Do Your Research

If you really want to make sure you’re doing your best to avoid phone scams, you can always research some of the popular scams. While there are certainly some exceptions, most scammers aren’t incredibly creative; a simple Google search will tell you about some of the most common scams being run right now. These scams often change depending on the time of year and general financial climate, but you may see things like fake IRS scams or people pretending to be a family member in dire need of a Western Union transfer.

While it may seem like these scams are obvious and you would never fall for them, many people do. By taking steps to learn about and watch out for phone scams, you can protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.

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