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Minnesota Phone Number Lookup

What are Minnesota Phone Scams?

Minnesota residents sometimes receive phone calls from suspicious parties who try to steal sensitive information or wrongfully obtain money. Every year, Minnesota residents lose millions of dollars to the activities of scammers through telephone scams. Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. Minnesotans with concerns about possible phone scams or frauds can contact the Minnesota Commerce Department's Consumer Services Center at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602.

The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General also publishes a list of common scams and tell-tale signs of scam artists in the state. Phone scams may be reported to the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General by submitting a Consumer Assistance Request Form or Fraud Report Form. You may call the office at 651-296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area) or 800-657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities). Reports can also be made to the local Police Departments and County Sheriff's Offices.

Common phone scams in Minnesota include:

  • Voice Phishing Scam: where a scammer impersonates someone the call recipient trusts to trick them into giving out confidential information.
  • IRS Scam: where a scammer poses as an employee of the Inland Revenue Service to defraud the victim.
  • Grandparent Scam: where a scammer poses as a grandchild in dire straits and requests the target, usually a grandparent, to urgently send money through wire transfer.
  • Can You Hear Me Scam: where a scammer gets the target to answer “yes” to confirm an active line and records that response to use in identity theft.
  • Employment Scam: where a scammer offers a bogus job opening which requires the victim to pay a sum of money before employment.
  • Tech Support Scam: where a scammer requires remote access to fix a computer issue but steals sensitive information in the process.
  • Charity Scam: where a scammer claims to represent a reputable charity organization and seeks donation.
  • Credit repair or debt-relief scam: where a scammer claims to help off-set a loan or offer lower interest rate on a credit card for a "modest" fee.
  • Business Investment Scam: where a scammer presents a fraudulent investment scheme and promises high returns.
  • Prize Scam: where the scammer offers a prize, which can only be claimed after paying "freight fees or tax."

What are Minnesota IRS Scams?

IRS scams are one of the most common phone scams in Minnesota. Scammers spoof caller IDs to show up as the telephone caller ID of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Sometimes, an IRS scammer has researched the victim's name, address, and other life details to make the call sound legitimate. IRS scammers use fake names, titles, and badge numbers to sound and appear legitimate. Some even go as far as copying the official IRS letterhead for use in email. IRS scammers advise victims to pay up to avoid incoming IRS investigations or rulings. Payment is typically requested through iTunes cards, wire transfer, and prepaid debit cards.

What are Minnesota Tech Support Scams?

If your computer suddenly freezes or gives a high-pitched alarm and then throws up a pop-up displaying a potential data breach and a phone number to call, chances are that you have been targeted in a tech support scam. Tech support scammers try to scare computer users with such sudden and loud messages in the hope that the target will contact the phone numbers displayed. Tech scammers make it look like they are representatives of reputable tech companies like Apple and Microsoft.

The scammer promises to fix the problem once the target provides remote access to the computer and has made a payment of several hundreds of dollars. A quotation for a tune-up software and antivirus may be included in the cost required of the target. Once the scammer is given remote access, sensitive information such as passwords, PINs, and banking information are stolen off the hard drive. Spyware or malware may be installed to monitor and regularly steal information from the computer. At other times, rogue software may be installed which allows the crook to control the computer remotely or to display fake security alerts to convince the target to pay for phony products and services.

What are Minnesota Voice Phishing Scams?

In voice phishing, the scammer impersonates legitimate companies or financial institutions over phone calls in order to steal money as well as personal and financial information. Scammers involved in voice phishing typically make phone calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications. These calls can be made from anywhere in the world and are almost untraceable because they are made over the internet. To further avoid detection, scammers also use automated dialers to deliver pre-recorded messages and caller ID spoofing to falsify caller ID information. VoIP also makes these calls somewhat inexpensive, hence, even a low success rate makes voice phishing lucrative to scammers.

What are Minnesota Grandparent Scams?

Here, crooked individuals impersonate a grandchild in distress. The elderly, such as grandparents, are the targets in this scam. The scam typically starts with a phrase like Hi Grandpa or Hi Grandma! Do you know who this is? Many grandparents respond with a name that the scammer assumes for the purpose of their scams. The "grandchild" describes some type of extremely urgent scenario, such as needing to leave a foreign country, paying a medical bill, or needing bail money, a ticket home, or auto-repair money. Such scammers claim to be embarrassed to ask others and try to dissuade the grandparents from contacting other family members. Financial requests are preferred through Western Union or MoneyGram.

In some situations, the scammer may investigate the identity of a grandchild before initiating a call to the grandparent or pretend to be a third party such as a bail bondsman or a government official. Note that requests for secrecy, an urgent request for money, and the involvement of a family member are the tell-tale signs of a grandparent scam.

What are Minnesota “Can You Hear Me” Scams?

"Can you hear me?" "Is this you?" "Are you there?" Wisconsin residents get these or similar questions during "Can You Hear Me" phone scam calls which appear to be coming from their people in their localities. The goal of the scammer is to get the target to answer "yes." By answering "yes", the target inadvertently notifies robo-callers that their number is an active telephone number that can be sold to telemarketers for a high price. This leads to several unwanted and annoying calls.

In other cases, the scammer may record the "yes" and use the recording to claim authorized charges to the target’s credit card or account like they were authorized by the target. Financial information may also be obtained from this form of identity theft.

How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?

Being wary of strange callers and unknown numbers are important tips to know to avoid phone scams. Other useful tips include:

  • Do not send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request.
  • Do online searches. Type a product or company name into a search engine with words like "scam", "complaint", and "review". Use reverse phone lookup searches to identify unknown callers and businesses. Phone numbers may also be verified online to see if other people have reported them as scams.
  • Do not trust the caller ID on your phone. Scammers now use spoofing to falsify the caller ID information. Hence, names and numbers regardless of where they seem to be coming from are not always real. If a caller asks for money or personal information, hang up. If you later think the caller is genuine, call back using a number you know is genuine.
  • Do not pay upfront for a promise. Scammers ask for upfront payment for debt relief, mortgage assistance, loan offers, and jobs. Some may claim you have won a prize, but you must pay taxes or fees. If you send money to them, they will most likely disappear.
  • Consider the method of payment: If a caller insists on payments through less-secure methods like Western Union or MoneyGram. It is most likely a scam. Government offices and reputable companies will not require you to use these methods or others such as iTunes, MoneyPak, and cryptocurrencies.
  • Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone but hear a recorded message, hang up immediately. Do not press any button to speak to a person.
  • Sign up online for free scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Report scammers to local law enforcement agencies in Minnesota and the FTC.
  • Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry.