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Attorney General offers tips on how to avoid phone scams

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) Since the start of this year, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has received more than 10,000 complaints about unwanted or robocalls. Because that kind of activity is the most common complaint received, Attorney General Greg Zoeller has issued tips on how people can recognize and avoid being a victim of scammers.

There are several ways to recognize potential scams before you answer the phone, according to Attorney General Greg Zoeller:

  • Non-existent area code, like “000” and “123” 

If the number looks fake, chances are the call is probably a scam. Let a call from these area codes go unanswered.

  • Area code 202

If you are not expecting a call from our nation’s capital, then be wary when a Caller ID number starts with 202. The caller may be an impostor claiming to be an agent of the U.S. Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding payment of past-due taxes. This is the most common telephone scam reported to the AG’s Office this year. The IRS urges consumers to report IRS impostor scams by calling the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Complaint Hotline at 1.800.366.4484.

  • Area code 876

Unless you have family or friends in Jamaica, be alert when you see area code 876 on your Caller ID. In the past year, Hoosiers have filed nearly 1,500 complaints about sweepstakes scam calls from this area code. The Federal Trade Commission has partnered with Jamaican law enforcement to fight telemarketing fraud. For more information about this scam, visit here.

  • Unfamiliar area code or number

Many people have stopped answering calls from unknown numbers in far-flung places. If you are not expecting a call from Bismark, North Dakota or Tacoma, Washington, it is probably best to ignore it.

  • Same area code and exchange as your number

If you receive a call from your own number, or a number that is only a couple of digits removed from your number, be very wary. Telemarketers are known to employ a type of spoofing known as “Caller ID mirroring,” which involves transmitting a number close to the number they are calling to get someone to pick up the phone.

  • Generic names, like “Card Services” or “Home Security”

The Caller ID name can also provide a clue to a potential scam or telemarketing violation. A generic sounding name like “Card Services” informs consumers the call may be a robocall or a scam.

“If you have Caller ID, you can’t always trust the number being displayed when your phone rings,” Zoeller said. “Scammers can easily spoof Caller ID to make it appear like the call is originating from somewhere it’s not, for example your home town or a government agency. If you don’t know the phone number and are suspicious, you’re best bet is to let the call go to voicemail. If you answer, your number is more likely to be an ongoing target.”

Consumers should also make sure they have signed up for the state’s Do Not Call list. If not, they should visit or call 1.888.834.9969 before the next quarterly deadline on Tuesday, August 16.