Telephone fraud – protection against rip-offs on the phone

Telephone fraud

Telephone fraud is a major problem. In 2020 and 2021, about 800,000 cases of fraud were registered annually in Germany. This also involves telephone fraud, which causes considerable financial damage.

The fraudsters try by every trick in the book to deceive their counterpart at the other end of the line. Elderly people in particular are literally taken to the cleaners. They are robbed of their money, their assets and their trust.

Telephone scam current scam: Fake Europol or Interpol calls in connection with blackmail are currently rampant. The authorities officially warn against alleged calls by Europol or Interpol. There are already several victims of this telephone scam. You can find more information on this page.

Topics in our legal advice

Telephone fraud lawyer – You have been harmed by telephone fraudsters? Contact our lawyers at the Herfurtner law firm and arrange a free initial consultation.

Table of contents

  1. Telephone fraud – the perpetrators’ approach
  2. Targeted questioning
  3. Attempt to intimidate
  4. Avoiding telephone fraud – tips on how to behave
  5. Telephone scams: 3 examples
  6. A careless “yes” can be expensive
  7. Telephone scams: Options for scam victims
  8. Call ID spoofing – what is it?
  9. Beware of the ping trap

Telephone fraud – how the perpetrators operate

Telephone scammers who want to get hold of the savings, cash and valuables of preferably elderly people are quite clever. For example, they call at impossible times of the day – extremely early or late at night – and take advantage of the fact that their victim is not asleep or tired or not quite up to it.

Furthermore, the perpetrators build up a familiarity right at the beginning of the conversation, which is only feigned. Or they lure the called person into the trap with false friendliness.

Targeted interrogation for scam calls

The scammers know exactly how best to proceed in order to achieve their goal.  In telephone fraud, they try to find out as much as possible about their target by asking intelligent questions.

For example, they inquire whether the victim is home alone, whether the partner is present or whether the victim has cash. In doing so, they play for time and rely on answering a large number of questions, which is intended to tire the victim.

If callers refuse to go to the bank and hand over their money and belongings, the scammers try to keep them on the phone until they finally agree.

Attempt at intimidation

Callers who react suspiciously, e.g. when a fake police officer calls, may be accused of obstructing important investigations or being obliged to help. In this situation, there is only one thing you can do: do not give in to the pressure and hang up.

Avoiding telephone scams – how to behave

Phone scams can be avoided by following some behavioural strategies when dealing with these scam calls.

  1. If you do not know the caller, do not get involved in a conversation and do not answer any personal questions.
  2. If you receive a call from an unknown person, be suspicious. Not everyone is up to no good and it is possible to misdial – but caution is always advisable.
  3. If someone asks you for money on the phone, do not accept it and avoid handing over valuables or cash to strangers at the door in good faith.
  4. As soon as you notice something strange in the conversation, end it and hang up. This is not rude, but the appropriate reaction to unwanted phone calls.
  5. Discuss the topic of telephone scams with your family and think in particular about the older generations, who are unfortunately usually the focus of the scammers. Preventive sensitisation helps to recognise fraud attempts and to stop them in time.

Three well-known telephone fraud scams

Telephone scams often follow patterns, which makes it easier to recognise a scam as such and react accordingly. The most common telephone fraud scams include the following three.

Saying “yes” at the wrong time can be expensive

Telephone fraud “Yes” said what to do? Contracts supposedly negotiated over the phone are putting increasing pressure on consumers. Those who are affected tell of being told to say “yes” loud and clear on the phone. Callers achieve this by asking specific questions, such as “Do you hear me?”

Those contacted by this type of scam call are sent contract agreements or invoices by scammers a few days later. Obviously, according to the scammers’ argument, the recipients had agreed in the phone call.

Extreme examples of phone calls being cut together have been reported in the media, where the “yes” was spoken exactly when it was needed to close a deal. However, no contract was ever actually concluded.

No obligation to pay and right to complain

Therefore, you should be aware that you are not obliged to make these payments. However, you should not simply tune them out, but stand your ground and fight back. While it would be consistent to avoid saying “yes” during a telephone conversation, in practice this can hardly be avoided.

A good strategy to avoid playing into the hands of the perpetrators of telephone fraud is therefore to always answer questions with a complete sentence. For example, answer the question “Am I easy to understand?” with the answer “I understand you”. Also, tell your interviewer clearly if you are not interested in his or her products or services.

And if you are not sure, just hang up the phone. For your own protection, write down the caller’s name, company, date, time and phone number, as well as what was discussed during the conversation.

In addition, if you are contacted by an advertiser without your permission, use this information to file a complaint with the Federal Network Agency and the Consumer Advice Centre.

If you have become a victim of telephone fraud, it is helpful in many cases to file a criminal complaint for fraud. Our lawyers at the Herfurtner law firm will advise you comprehensively on this topic. In addition, we also represent the interests of fraud victims in the areas of cybercrime, bitcoin fraud, internet fraud, investment fraud and online fraud schemes. Please feel free to contact us.

False connection under this number – Call-ID spoofing

You receive a call from a number you know (e.g. from the police), but it actually comes from a completely different line. A supposed “policeman” calls elderly people and demands credit card information, jewellery or money transfers abroad from them on the phone.

The scammers try to exploit people’s trust in the police by pretending to be police officers. Therefore, one should never give out account numbers or other personal information on the phone and especially inform older people from one’s circle of acquaintances and family accordingly.

Because no police officer would ever demand data or money from a caller. If in doubt, call your local police station and make inquiries. Alternatively, you can dial the emergency number 110, but then do not use the call-back button.

Telephone fraud: small callback, big costs – the ping trap

After a short ring, the phone goes silent. The aim is to get you to call the caller back. The problem here is that the callers are often not in Germany, but somewhere in Africa or the Middle East.

Calls to these parts of the world cost a lot of money, and part of it ends up in the purses of the scammers. Incidentally, the telephone numbers come either from address sellers or, even more frequently, from computer programmes that dial prefixes for mobile phones and telephone number blocks on an automated basis.

You should look carefully at a telephone number that has only rung you briefly. The “+” symbol or two zeros are in front of the number? If you do not recognise the phone number, you should not return that call. It is also not a good idea to call suppressed numbers if you do not want to become a victim.

Telephone scams – help for victims of scam calls

If you believe you have been the victim of a telephone scam, you should contact our law firm immediately. We can advise you as an injured party in the best possible way due to our expertise. Our lawyers will work with you to take action against telephone fraud and help you file a criminal complaint all the way to a court hearing.

Take advantage of our free initial consultation and ask our lawyers about all civil and criminal law options in your specific individual case. We offer you a realistic and honest assessment of success and cost transparency. We are available for our clients in Germany and in German-speaking countries.

If you have invested in or made payments to one of the companies on this list, our lawyers will be at your disposal at short notice.


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