Before the telephone was even invented, a scam for the patent rights of the working telephone was something that Alexander Graham Bell had planned to carry out. One spring day in 1876 and just hours before Elisha Gray filed notice of his new contraption known as the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell filed his own intent to patent. Bell did not have a plan but waited for Gray to propose his ideas and used them as his own. Elisha Gray was scammed for the credit that would end up in the history books, noting Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone.
Scam artists have been working for their own personal gain since the beginning of time. Scamming is a type of psychological manipulation that involves two key factors: concealing intentions and using effective weapons against them. Telephones were, and still are, an easy source of contacting scores of people to entice them into deals that sound too good to be true, sweepstakes winnings just waiting to be collected or even lost relatives that are down on their luck and need a few dollars.
Precautions need to be taken from telephone scammers in order to protect your rights and your pocketbook. Since money is the number one reason for scam artists to contact you, learn how to recognize the phone number of the caller. Many phone owners rely on caller ID but scam artists discovered a way around this as soon as Caller ID was invented. Caller ID spoofing is a method used by scammers to change the Caller ID number display to another number of their choosing. Reverse phone lookup has been added through new technology to show the actual phone number of the caller and can thwart the phone number imposter. In February 2010, the US Congress passed the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010" that makes it a crime to transmit inaccurate or misleading caller ID information with the purpose to defraud. Before this date, Caller ID spoofing was legal.
Ponzi schemes are another form of illegal activity where the scam artist phones individuals to conduct their business. Charles Ponzi is responsible for the ponzi scheme as phones were becoming widely utilized by businesses in the 1920s. Purchasing a small amount of international mail coupons, Charles promised investors a 50% return on their money when they purchased the coupons. The money was invested but money from new customers was used for purchasing more mail coupons and the proceeds from the investments pocketed. False reports were given to investors to keep the game going. Reverse phone lookup may not prevent this type of phone scamming as the person you are dealing with may be someone you know and trust.
Cramming is a less invasive type of scam until you receive your phone bill and realize that your phone has been the target of a phone scam. You may receive a phone message that you have won a trip or a sweepstakes and in order to collect your winnings, simply call the toll-free number provided. You never hear back with your good news but the bad news is that you have just enrolled in some type of club and the payment is charged to you monthly on your phone bill. Avoid these types of calls by having a third party block placed on your phone or use reverse phone lookup to find the source of the party calling.
New technology and the Internet have provided new services to help protect you from con artists via the telephone but have also created a whole new form of scamming practices for the con artist. One of the latest forms of phone scamming targets your bank account without your knowledge. This type of scam takes some advance planning on the part of the con artist. A computer hacker retrieves your personal information and bank account number. Next, your phone lines are tied up by a denial-of-service attack while the perpetrator contacts your bank to have funds transferred to them. The caller ID is changed to reflect your home or cell phone number so the bank agent feels secure that you are the correct party. In the meantime, you are having phone difficulties and may feel there is just a problem with your phone provider. It may be days or weeks before the problem is discovered and by then, your money is gone.
If you feel that you are a victim of a phone scammer, there are steps that you can take to prevent a reoccurring situation. Telemarketing fraud should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and your State Attorney General. Take down notes as to the date, time and real phone number by using reverse phone lookup for further reference. The authorities may contact you again as part of a larger criminal investigation. Report any unauthorized phone charges on your phone bill to your carrier and insist that they be removed.
The easiest way to avoid telephone scam artists is to not be sucked into their game from the start. Never provide your personal or banking information over the phone, have a third-party block placed on your phone number and use reverse phone lookup to monitor all incoming calls. Phone scamming has been an easy way for con artists to conduct business since the telephone was invented. As new ways are found to fight this type of illegal activity, more phone scams will soon show up. Put precautions into place before you are victimized.
*This is not intended to be a thorough explanation of the law, nor does it attempt to offer legal advice. If you intend to make full use of this law, you should first consult an attorney. However you choose to use this information is with your full responsibility and at your own risk.