The Complete Guide to Removing Yourself From Scammer Contact Lists

how to get rid of scammersScammers are often clever people who stay one step ahead of the game to make a profit on swindling people. You only need to run a brief Internet search for the phrase “scam horror stories,” and it becomes clear that scammers know how to pique people’s interest and get them to respond by using the promise of riches or offering a chance for romance. It takes vigilance and know-how to avoid falling victim to scammers’ wiles. One of the key steps to protecting yourself is to prevent the scammers from contacting you in the first place. Here are some tips on how to get rid of scammers.

How to get rid of scammers — once and for all

1. Snail Mail Scams

Snail mail is expensive, so scammers do not use it as often as they use email or other electronic means. They still use it sometimes, though, because snail mail (if it looks official enough) can capture attention better than just another subject line in a crowded email inbox.

How the Scams Work

You get a nice-looking envelope in the mail, sometimes with some obnoxious notice stamped on it, such as “OPEN IMMEDIATELY.” So you open it immediately and find a load of grandiose claims. All that you have to do is fill out a form, send in some money, and voilà! You just put a smile on a scammer’s face.

What You Can Do

Usually, junk mail is harmless, but sometimes responding to it can get you tangled in a never-ending web of solicitations or worse. To get yourself off mailing lists, try to find an email address for the sending company (either online or in the materials that they sent you) and ask that they remove you. Legitimate companies will listen to your request.

If you cannot find an email address or you continue to get mail from a company 90 days or so after you ask them to stop, you may have to get mean. Use the business-paid envelopes that the scammers send, and stuff them full of anything that you can find—anything to make the envelope heavy so it ends up costing the scammer a pretty price. That will get your message across loud and clear.

You also should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about stopping the flow of unsolicited mail you’re receiving. They may be able to help you out.

2. Email Scams

You take your junk filter for granted, but it saves you on a daily basis from hordes of garbage email getting to your primary inbox. Still, scammers occasionally find clever ways to sneak a message through.

How the Scams Work

Phishing scams are the most common type of email scam. A bad guy crafts an email that looks legit, like it could have come from a bank or your credit card company. The goal is to get you to hand over personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers and/or your social security number. Successful phishing is an identity thief’s dream.

Seniors are, perhaps, the most vulnerable to this type of scam. However, anyone can fall prey to it if they don’t exercise caution and personal discretion. A few years back, it was country singer superstar Brad Paisley who became the victim of an online cancer hoax.

What You Can Do

It is almost impossible to stop scammers from getting a hold of your email address since there are businesses that sell lists of emails for practically nothing. It’s easy enough to train yourself to recognize unfriendly emails. Requests for personal information, incorrect grammar and spelling, and odd domain names are all red flags. Also, take care to report suspicious emails to the FTC.

3. Phone Scams

The National Do Not Call Registry is a huge help to consumers worn out by telemarketer solicitations. However, do not rely on that registry as an invincible forcefield against scammers.

How the Scams Work

A caller claims to be someone whom he isn’t and convinces you to hand over cash or information that makes your money easy to steal. Sometimes these callers even claim to represent the Do Not Call Registry, and they say they want to give you the opportunity to sign up for it.

There are also “missed call scams,” where a caller lets the phone ring once before hanging up, baiting you to call back so they can connect you with a pricey adult entertainment line.

What You Can Do

To stop harmless solicitors, register your phone number at donotcall.gov. Once you’ve done that, if you still get phone calls, report violators to the FTC. Watch out for signs that the call is a scam. If they call outside the allowed hours for telemarketing (8 a.m. to 9 p.m.), if they don’t tell you exactly who they are and why they’re calling, or if they put heavy pressure on you to make an immediate decision, this could indicate that the caller isn’t just an honest salesperson looking to pad his or her commission. If you see these warning signs, go ahead and file a complaint with the FTC.

4. SMS Scams

You may have unlimited text messaging on your mobile plan, but that doesn’t mean that you want to receive unlimited text messages.

How the Scams Work

These text messages may look like they come from a trusted source, and often they claim to be urgent alerts that ask you to respond immediately by following a link. If you respond, you could give the criminals access to your mobile device and the private information on it.

What You Can Do

Stay on the lookout for area codes that you don’t recognize. Often these rotten messages come from outside the U.S. Also, don’t respond to any messages that come from an unknown source. If you suspect that a message that you received came from a scammer, report it to your cell carrier so they can investigate and block the number. Also, if you don’t frequently make international calls, you can ask your carrier to block all international contact.

If you want more information about wireless scams, you can turn to trustworthy sources such as the Federal Communications Commission, the FTC, the National Fraud Information Center, and the Better Business Bureau. These organizations all have resources that can arm you with more information that will help you protect your wallet and your identity.

Scammer tactics are always evolving, so you should remain aware of their tactics. By taking steps to stop them before they make contact, you’re shutting them down before they even get a chance to tempt you with unrealistic offers or “urgent” alerts.

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