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Updated on Author: Contributor: Sergei Lemberg

The Truth About Scam Callers

They called yesterday, and today, and last week, and no matter how many times you block their number, they still keep calling, wanting to give you a very important message about your car’s extended warranty. You don’t even own a car!  Who are these people, and why are they calling you? Is there a way to make it stop?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Scam callers are not connected to legitimate businesses. They do not operate within the confines of the law. They are the outlaws of the telemarketing industry. Legally, they do not exist. The calls might be originating from a center in a distant land, or the basement of the mother of an unemployed man armed with a burner phone. No matter who is making the calls, they are not what is called “Collectible.” 

Collectible businesses have addresses and are registered with the secretary of state. They can be served with summons and complaints, and they have income to pay any lawsuits that might arise. 

Uncollectible businesses are shady scam operations. They may have a website that lists an address, but it is usually a PO Box, or alternatively, they list the physical address of the post office to make it appear like they have an office. Some operate as collection agencies, buying old debts for pennies on the dollar, and working out of their homes. They may sound like any other debt collector on the phone, and yet they do not exist in a legal sense because they never filed the necessary paperwork with the state. Their business does not legally report income for which they can be sued. 

Others operate as call centers overseas, where they can hire cheap labor and operate outside state and federal law.

Even if you should discover the names of the people involved, suing them is likely to be an exercise in futility. A person working out of his mother’s basement has no money to pay lawsuits. Getting a judgment would be a waste of time and effort. And if they are operating outside the jurisdiction of the United States, there is no way to haul them into court at all.

These scam callers employ a variety of methods to reach you, including spoofing local numbers, or those of legitimate businesses, to trick you into answering. They may ask you a question such as, “Can you hear me?” to record you saying “yes” which they can assert was permission allowing them to do a variety of shady things. They exhibit an astounding array of creativity and originality, all for the purpose of reaching you and getting access to your private information.

Take a common scam that was occurring last summer, for instance. Using Facebook, the scammers targeted people whose friend lists are public. They then culled their friends for people who publicly listed their phone numbers on their profile. Next, they called the friends, stating they urgently needed to get in touch with the target, sometimes saying that they were being sued or simply stating that they need to be put in touch with them right away, and leaving their phone number. The result is the target is inundated with frantic calls, texts, and emails from people they haven’t talked to in ages, like their bunkmate from camp and their ex-husband’s aunt, stating that someone is trying to find them. The target then calls the number the scammers left with their social media friends only to be confronted with an angry, irate person who demands their social security number and identifies information with the voice of authority.

A terrifying, complicated, multi-faceted scheme with one purpose-identity theft. And there is little anyone can do to stop these kinds of calls.


  • Callers claiming to be the IRS, saying you owe them money
  • Callers claiming to be the Social Security Administration, informing you that your social security number has been suspended.
  • Callers claiming you won some kind of prize.
  • Callers claiming to be Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, stating that your account has been suspended for fraudulent or suspicious activity or that you need some kind of support.
  • Callers Claiming to be the police or law enforcement.
  • Callers claiming to be the federal government wanting to process your application for student loan forgiveness.


They’re trying to get private information out of you. They want your social security number and date of birth. Those two bits of information are the keys to the kingdom. That’s all they need to steal your identity. Some of the scam callers take it a step further, trying to get your credit card numbers or bank information.

So, now that we know who they are and what they are after, isn’t there anything that can be done to stop them?

As previously stated, suing them is an exercise in futility and a waste of time. But you can take the following steps if you feel you are being harassed by a scam artist:

  • Contact the police using their non-emergency number.
  • Contact your state attorney general’s office.
  • If the scam artist’s target is older or has a disability, contact Adult Protective Services (APS).
  • Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Although this won’t deter scam artists, you will know right away  if you receive a call that it’s not likely to be from a legitimate business.

Other Preventive Steps:

  • Use your privacy settings on social media to keep friends’ lists private and your basic information hidden.
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know, this is a common and very popular way scam artists use to target people.
  • Never give a caller your social security number, date of birth, credit card or bank account numbers unless you have verified their identity.
  • Report phone scams at

Knowledge is your best tool against scam callers operating in defiance of state and federal law. Don’t fall victim to a scam caller! 

About the author:

Contributor: Sergei Lemberg

Sergei Lemberg is a consumer rights attorney, practicing since 2006, whose practice focuses on consumer law, class actions and personal injury litigation. He is known for a United States Supreme Court case (Facebook v. Duguid) defending consumers from autodialers under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 to send unsolicited text messages. He is also the author of Defanging Debt Collectors, a book that teaches consumers how to battle debt collectors and win.

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