When anyone makes unsolicited or solicited contact with you always pay attention to the three W’s
Who are they claiming to be.
Even if you recognize the voice, recognize the face or recognize the email address (or phone number) this does not mean that you are speaking to whom you think you are speaking to. If you WERE NOT expecting this contact, alarm bells should be going off in your head and you have to be hyper aware.
Why are they contacting you.
Initially, in the contact, they either want information from you or they are trying to give you information:
If they want information from you: Response: Sorry, you have the wrong number and terminate the call.
If they want to give you information, note the information and do not respond to it during this contact. For example: Hello, this is Ann from xyz Bank and we are calling you to check recent activity on your account… Response: (1) Sorry, you have the wrong number (2) Terminate the call (3) You initiate contact yourself with your bank or card company Another example: Hello, this is John from example.com you recently purchased a vehicle and we were wondering if you are satisfied… Response: (1) Sorry, you have the wrong number (2) Terminate the call
What do they want.
There are many different types of scams and some scams are simple one level scams and others are of varying complexity and levels.
To know or understand what anyone wants is probably the most challenging thing to answer as it involves you to become involved in the exchange and the more involved you become the easier it becomes for the scammers to suck you into their scam and scams.
If they want personal information only, see the response and action above under why?
If they want money decide if you are going to give it to them or not.
If they want to offer you love or investments or anything else, you should already be hyper vigilant! (and try to understand for yourself: why are you still on the call? – are they trying to play to your greed? are they trying to play on your emotions? or what?)
Scammers work alone or in groups. Some criminals specialize in providing services to scammers or to groups of scammers and this specific contact may be part of just someone building your identity data in order to sell your identity to other scammers. (the better your credit score and the more detailed the data the criminals have, the higher value your identity has on the black market) It may also be that this specific contact is the actual scam or just one facet of a scam or part/component of another scam.
The what sometimes involves hacking you or hacking the person, also called social engineering.
The person contacting you may be a friend of a friend, or someone you vaguely remember knowing and you must always double check any introductions by following up and asking for references, how well/long does Paul know Simon and what level of trust does Paul have for Simon (will you leave your children/money with Paul (how much do you trust Paul?) and then how much does Paul trust Simon. if you are not a bank, why would someone want to borrow money from you? If you are not a car dealership why would someone be asking you for advice about second hand cars? use your common sense and always remember that if something ‘feels’ off, it probably is.
The person calling you may admit to being a stranger and may have another hook into you as they may already have your data, know your interests and understand your buttons, triggers and personality. Some syndicates use professional psychometric measurements, for example 16PF and others, they already “know” you and are able to manage your reactions and get right on close into you. They have spent a lot of time, effort and money into understanding you and will base their scheme on maximizing their return on investment.
Bottom line: If you suspect that you are a serious target the best is to involve professionals in your situation. Involve law enforcement, attorneys, the courts and other private professional contractors.
Further reading: Proverbs 13:20, a companion of fools suffers harm: If you mix with criminals you will suffer harm.