On Your Side: Scammers can steal your info, when you’re hanging up on them

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 5:54 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Just because you know it’s a phone scam, does not mean you’re in the clear. Crooks have a way with words. They almost stole a Webster County woman’s social security number.

Her phone displayed a 417 area code. She thought it might be someone from work or a doctor’s office. So she picked it up. She quickly figured out it was a scam call, but listen to how this conversation went down.

Swindlers can steal your info, when you’re hanging up on them.

“He said I’m James Olson with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol,” said Sharon Brungard.

Brungard says the conversation was over before it really started.

“We have some packages coming to your address. It’s contraband with drugs and money laundering,” she said.

Brungard knew she had no ties to the border and certainly was not dealing drugs.

“He gave me a case number, a badge number -- made it all sound very official,” she said.

Here’s when Sharon could have lost her ID. The swindler did not outright ask for her social security number and driver’s license. The swindler asked Sharon to verify her social security and driver’s license.

“I didn’t even ask him what numbers he had because that would open a door for him to question me further,” said Brungard.

She did the right thing. She did not take the bait.

“Don’t engage a long conversation with them. The longer you talk to them the more info they’re going to get out of you. Whether you realize it or not,” she said.

Remember, scammers can easily figure out your name, address, and where you work. They’re hoping to snag a few more details so they can steal your ID and money. Do not talk to them. Hang up.

Remember, if you really have a warrant -- officers don’t call first.

Ways to Dodge Scam Calls and Texts

1. Ignore unknown numbers. Don’t answer unexpected calls.

2. Join both No Call lists.

3. Try an app.

Consumer Reports says to try Nomorobo, Hiya, Mr. Number, RoboKiller, and YouMail. For a landline, try a call blocker. It is a small device you put next to your phone. Those can cost anywhere from $20-$100, but it might be worth your peace of mind.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com