New Jersey phone scams are fraudulent activities perpetrated against residents of the state using telephone services. Live phone calls, text messages, and robocalls are all employed by phone scammers in their schemes. Phone scams typically aim to steal money and sensitive information. Phone scammers in New Jersey often disguise identities, but phone lookup applications can unmask them.
The Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (OAG) protects residents from phone scams. It educates them on how to identify and avoid phone scams while also enforcing the Consumer Fraud Act and its regulations. New Jerseyans who are victims of phone scams can file complaints with the OAG by submitting the consumer complaint form to the DCA’s office at:
124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 07101
P. O. Box 45025
Residents can also send completed forms to the DCA by email. Alternatively, New Jersey phone scams can be reported to local law enforcement agencies or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The commonly perpetrated phone scams in New Jersey include:
- Medicare Phone Scams - Scammers pretend to be employees of Medicare and ask targeted New Jerseyans to replace insurance cards.
- IRS Scams - The callers claim to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tell New Jersey residents to pay their owed taxes immediately.
- Lottery Phone Scams - New Jerseyans get phone calls announcing they have won bogus prizes. They must send money to claim their winnings.
- Grandparent Scams - Fraudsters pose as loved ones, usually grandchildren, to extort elderly New Jerseyans
- Electric Utility Scams - Scammers who pretend to be with local utility companies contact New Jerseyans to rip them off.
- Tech Support Scams - These are scams in which scammers claim to be representatives of targeted New Jerseyans' computer companies. They typically aim to steal their marks' personal information.
Other prevalent scams in New Jersey include:
- Charity scams
- COVID-19 scams
- Jury duty scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Disaster-related scams
- Vehicle warranty scams
- Credit card scams
- Debt collector scams
What are New Jersey IRS Scams?
IRS scams happen all year round but are particularly prevalent around tax season. Scammers pretend to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees and cheat residents out of money and/or steal their personal information. The callers will claim that call recipients owe some money to the IRS and threaten arrest or legal action. To avoid these actions, they instruct targets to pay immediately via some unusual payment channels like wire transfer, gift cards, or bitcoins. Sometimes, these scammers spoof Caller IDs of the IRS to make their calls and demands appear legitimate.
The IRS cautions residents that it does not make threatening phone calls or request tax payment over the phone. The IRS only initiates communication with taxpayers by mail unless taxpayers request phone engagements. New Jerseyans can fish out the identities of IRS scammers by doing reverse phone lookup searches on the callers' numbers. Victims of IRS scams can file complaints online with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The IRS warns residents not to send money to persons claiming to be its employees over the phone.
What are Lottery Phone Scams?
New Jerseyans can uncover the identities of fraudsters who engage in lottery scams using phone lookup applications. In these scams, the fraudsters will claim to be agents of familiar legitimate lottery companies and tell targeted persons that they won lotteries. The calls recipients might not have even entered any contest and yet, fall for such baits. To facilitate claiming the winnings, the callers will ask their targets to pay some fees upfront. Such money they will claim covers taxes and other service charges. Their preferred means of receiving payment are preloaded cards, credit cards, wire transfer, or iTunes cards. If you receive this type of call, know that it is a scam, end it immediately to avoid falling victim. Once their victims send money, the scammers disappear, and tracing such payments are usually hard.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General warns residents against lottery scams and advises them never to send money when they receive such calls. Also, New Jerseyans should never share their credit card details with anyone over the phone, especially if they did not initiate such calls. If you are a victim of a lottery scam in New Jersey, report your encounter to any law enforcement agency in your locality. You can also file a complaint online with the FTC.
What are Electric Utility Scams?
Scammers are falsely claiming to be representatives of local electric utility companies to steal from New Jerseyans. These scams have multiple variations. In a popular version, the callers will attempt to trick their targets into giving out billing and personal information. They achieve this by promising to lower targets' monthly cost of their utility bills as bait. The aim is to commit identity theft with such information. In another variant, the scammers will claim that their marks have outstanding electric bills and must pay immediately to avoid service interruption. They often target both business and residential customers of electric utility companies and demand payment by gift cards or wire transfer.
New Jerseyans must know that legitimate utility companies will never threaten to shut off electricity without prior multiple written notices. Hang up on such a call if you receive any, and do not send money or share personal and billing information. Contact the phone number provided on your previous utility bills to confirm the caller's claim. Report New Jersey electric utility scams by submitting a completed complaint form to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) via email.
What are Credit Card Scams?
New Jerseyans understand the implication of having compromised debit or credit cards. Phone scammers impersonate employees of banks or card companies and take advantage of cardholders' fears to rip them off using this scheme. Phone lookup services can help retrieve the identities of these fraudsters. In most cases, the scammers employ text messages. The texts often come as fraud alerts, notifying targeted cardholders of some supposed frauds on their cards. To stop such thefts, the scammers will instruct their targets to send card details and PIN in response to those texts. It is important to emphasize that banks, card companies, or their employees will never ask for such information. Your card information is confidential and should not be shared with anyone, especially not over the phone. New Jerseyans who believe they are victims of this scam can register formal complaints online with the FTC or report to their local law enforcement agencies.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- The most reliable way of avoiding phone scams is by ignoring calls from unknown numbers. Allow such calls to go to voicemail.
- If you answer a call and suspect it might be a scam, hang up immediately and report it by sending a completed complaint form by email to the DCA. You can also search the caller's number on a phone lookup website to verify if they are what they claim to be.
- If you receive an automated robocall, end it immediately. Do not follow instructions to push any numbers to speak with live persons. It is a trick to identify active phone numbers, and that will lead to more robocalls.
- Do not share information such as your social security number, credit card details, or bank account information with unknown persons over the phone. Also, do not send money to them even if they threaten arrest or jail while claiming to represent government agencies.
- Register your phone number on the DNC Registry managed by the FTC to prevent robocall scams. Dial 1 (888) 382-1222 from your phone number to enroll.
- Block numbers you have identified as scam phone numbers. Most cell phones have built-in functions that allow users to block incoming numbers. Third-party call-blocking applications such as Truecaller, Nomorobo, and Hiya can also block telemarketers' unsolicited calls.
Keep abreast of the latest phone scams. Fraudsters are persistently advancing in their schemes to extort residents. New Jerseyans can get up-to-date information on phone scams from the FTC's website.