Is this a scam? Here are some tips to identify fakers over the phone

The Etowah County Sheriff's Office is getting reports of a wave of attempted phone scams. Here are some ways the Federal Trade Commission says you can tell if someone is a scammer, and how to avoid being taken advantage of.

Signs of a scam:

  • Scammers often pretend to be from an organization you are familiar with — the government, Social Security, the IRS, Medicare, a utility company, a charity, an individual, or a made-up organization that sounds official. They can use technology to change the number that appears on your caller ID; the name and number you see may not be real.

  • Scammers will tell you there's a problem — that you're in trouble with the government, that you owe money, there's a problem with your account, someone in your family had an emergency or there's a virus on your computer. Or scammers will claim you've won money in a lottery or sweepstakes, but you have to pay a fee to receive it.

  • Scammers will pressure you to act immediately, before you have time to think things through. While they have you on the phone they may say "don't hang up" so you can't check out their story.

  • Scammers will tell you a specific way to pay — often by sending money through a money transfer company, or putting money on a gift card and giving them the number on the back. A common scam involves sending you a check to deposit, then send them money back, only to have the check they sent bounce.

Avoiding a scam

  • Block unwanted calls and texts messages.

  • Never give your personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request. Legitimate organizations won't call, email or text you to ask for personal information like bank account numbers, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.

  • Don't click on links when you get an email or text message from a company that you do business with, even if you think it's real. Contact the company using a website you know is trustworthy or look up their phone number. Don't trust a number they give you, or what shows up on caller ID.

  • Don't let them pressure you to act fast; legitimate businesses will give you time to make your decision.

  • Stop and talk to someone you trust before you do anything else — a friend or a family member, or local law enforcement.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Scammer tactics: Here are some ways to ID and avoid would-be thieves