Three Common Mobile Phone Scams (Plus, How To Avoid Them)

As technology changes, scam tactics follow suit. Fortunately, a discerning eye can keep you from getting duped.

Quick Answer: Common modern phone scams – including the IRS scam, DHS OIG scam, and smishing – can largely be avoided by using good judgment and interacting only with familiar numbers.

Scams have always caused trouble, whether they’re facilitated through landline phone calls or virus-ridden e-mails. Now, however, the emergence of the smartphone has given rise to mobile phone scams, which aren’t always easy to distinguish from authentic messages and calls. Here, we’ll talk about some of today’s most common phone scams and how avoid to them.

Businessman holding a smartphone

IRS scam calls

When tax season comes around, IRS phone scam calls run rampant. These calls are unsolicited, and callers often alter their caller ID to give off the impression that the IRS is calling. During this scam, callers often demand payment by requesting personal information over the phone. Some even resort to scare tactics to convince you to cooperate.

These calls can be nerve-wracking – especially if you’ve ever had a tax issue. Fortunately, this scam is simple to avoid, because the IRS is unlikely to call you unless they’ve already sent you a bill and you haven’t responded. Plus, even if the IRS does make the call, they won’t demand your information. The best solution to these calls is to simply hang up and report it to the appropriate authorities.

DHS OIG scam

Not unlike IRS scams, these cell phone scams trick your caller ID into showing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) hotline (1-800-323-8603). Once you pick up, the caller will explain that your identity has been stolen and request personal information for verification.

So, how do you know it’s a scam? The DHS OIG never uses this hotline to place calls. It’s only to receive information. With this in mind, you can rest assured that blocking calls from this number is the right move.


Smishing is inspired by phishing, where individuals send fraudulent e-mails to unearth the recipient’s personal information. Smishing works the same, except it happens via SMS text messages that usually look like they’re coming from your bank. The best way to avoid falling victim to smishing is by simply deleting the text. If you believe you actually have a banking issue, find your bank’s phone number on their website or the back of your credit or debit card rather than using the number in the message.

Stay safe

With good judgment, you should have no trouble fending off cell phone scams.

By using good judgment and only interacting with numbers you know, you should have no trouble fending off cell phone scams with your Tracfone device. In the meantime, keep in touch with friends and family by refilling your Tracfone plan today.