Account Services Call Scams: Everything You Need To Know (2024)

Why Is Account Services Calling You?

For years, Cole Zelznak received phone calls from “Heather from account services” offering him a reduced interest rate on his credit card. But Cole doesn’t have a credit card [*].

In reality, “Heather” (or “Jonathan” or any one of countless generic names) doesn’t exist. Instead, they’re all part of one of the longest-running and most lucrative phone scams in history: the account services call scam.

Phone scams like these are flooding American phones — and it’s only getting worse.

By some accounts, Americans were bombarded by 50.3 billion spam calls last year alone [*].

While some phone scams are easy to spot before you answer, receiving a call from “account services” can prompt you to pick up the phone. So, how do you know if you’re dealing with a scammer or not?

In this guide, we’ll explain how account services call scams work, the warning signs to look out for, and what to do if you keep getting scam calls (or accidentally give out sensitive information over the phone).

What Are Account Services Calls? How Do You Know If It’s a Scam?

Account service call scams are a type of phone scam in which fraudsters spoof your caller ID to display “account services” or “cardmember services.” If you answer, scammers pose as representatives from credit card companies, collection agencies, banks, or utility providers.

Account Services Call Scams: Everything You Need To Know (1)

These “reps” may promote fake debt reduction or tempting credit card deals to entice you to give up your financial information. Others may threaten you by claiming that you have an overdue payment on a loan that you need to pay, or ask you to “verify” your account by providing sensitive information.

But any details that you disclose can be used to drain your bank account, steal your identity, or target you with follow-up phishing scams.

What makes account services call scams so dangerous is that most companies do have an “account services” department. So, how can you tell the difference between a real account services call and a fake one?

Use these telltale signs to identify a scammer on the phone:

  • You receive an unsolicited robocall. While robocalls aren’t illegal, companies can’t use them to contact you unless you’ve specifically given them permission to do so. A robocall from a company that you don’t recognize is illegal and most likely a scam.
  • You’re asked to “verify” sensitive information. True customer service representatives don’t ask for your credit card number, Social Security number (SSN), or account passwords. Never give this information to anyone over the phone.
  • The caller threatens you with fees, fines, or legal action. Service providers send multiple email reminders and physical letters about unpaid invoices before debt collectors start calling. Real debt collectors won’t force you to pay immediately or threaten to garnish your wages (unless they have a court order). If you’re worried that you’ve missed a payment, call the company’s support line to speak with a representative.
  • They don’t know your name or other key information that they should have readily available before calling you. Legitimate representatives will address you by name — they know your account number and contact information. And they’re willing and ready to answer any questions regarding your account and their policies.
  • You’re told you owe money on an account that you don’t recognize. Unless someone steals your identity, you can’t owe money for items you didn’t buy. Check your bank accounts for warning signs of identity theft.
  • There’s a noticeable pause when you pick up before anyone begins speaking. That pause is the robocalling software booting up and connecting fraudsters to their victims.
  • You’re offered a too-good-to-be-true deal. If you ask how to collect the item or prize, the caller will ask for personally identifiable information (PII) that can later be used for identity theft. Or, they’ll ask for your bank information to wire you the money and then steal your account and routing numbers.
  • The caller doubles down when you suggest that it’s a scam. Real companies — even telemarketers — will be worried that you’re filing a spam complaint and take you off of their lists. Scammers, however, aren’t concerned about their reputations or customer review ratings.

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Is “Account Services Collections” a Legitimate Debt Collector?

To make matters more confusing, there is a legitimate debt collection agency called “Account Services Collections” based out of San Antonio, Texas that may contact you about overdue debts.

If you get a call from a debt collector claiming to be from “Account Services Collections,” make sure they’re following the same rules as any other legitimate debt collector.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are not allowed to [*]:

  • Use unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices when contacting you
  • Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contact you at work if you’ve told them that you can’t receive personal calls at work
  • Continue contacting you after you’ve requested that they stop or have informed them you’ve secured an attorney
  • Approach you at an inconvenient or strange location

Debt collectors must also inform you of the original creditor’s name and address, how much you owe, and clearly state that you can legally dispute the debt. If you think a debt collector is violating the law, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or your state’s Attorney General's Office.

What To Do If You Keep Getting Account Services Scam Calls

  1. Verify the caller’s identity and any information they share
  2. Block the spam number on your phone
  3. Silence all unknown callers
  4. Report impersonation scams to impacted companies
  5. Download a third-party spam call protection app
  6. Remove your phone number from data broker lists

If you’re worried that a caller could be a scammer, take a second to step back and gather your thoughts. Fraudsters rely on creating a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly without thinking.

Don’t fall for their schemes. Instead, here’s what to do and how you can prevent account services scam calls from taking over your phone:

1. Verify the caller’s identity and any information they share

Phone scammers impersonate authoritative companies and government agencies — such as your credit card company, a debt collector, or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Whenever you receive unsolicited calls from people claiming to be from a company or agency, you should verify their identities and any information they provide before engaging with them.

How to verify that an account services call is legitimate:

  • Ask for a name, extension, or reference number — and then hang up. Ask what business or organization they’re calling from, and then request their name or extension. Hang up, and call the company back by using its official phone number. If it’s a company that you haven’t heard of, search for it on the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Scam Tracker site or do a Google search for “[company name] + scam/review/legitimate?” to see if anyone else has encountered them.
  • Review information by logging in directly to your accounts. Scammers are notorious for creating spoofed websites that look exactly like the login page of your bank (or other subscription accounts). Use your mobile app or the login page from your bank’s official website to check your accounts.
  • Verify that any debts are legitimate and not beyond the statute of limitations. If you owe a real debt, collectors should be able to tell you to whom and how much you owe. Review your records to confirm transaction dates, and cross-check them with your state’s statute of limitations. For example, California has a four-year limit for filing a lawsuit to collect a debt [*].

💡 Related: How To Prevent Identity Theft

2. Block the spam number on your phone

Once spammers have your number, they’ll continue calling you — hoping that one day you’ll pick up.

Both iPhones and Androids give you the ability to block specific numbers from reaching you. While this won't stop scammers from targeting you from new numbers (or leaving voicemail messages), it can spare you from receiving multiple scam calls a day from the same number.

Here’s how to block numbers on an iPhone [*]:

  • Open the Phone app and find the number you want to block. You can do this by checking your Contacts, Favorites, Recents, or Voicemail.
  • Tap on the More Info button next to the phone number or contact name that you want to block.
  • Scroll down, and then tap on Block this Caller.

And, if you’re an Android user [*]:

  • Open the Phone app.
  • Long press the number you want to block.
  • Tap on Block.

Alternatively, you can ask your cell phone provider about its spam call-blocking features.

Most telecommunication companies like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile automatically display incoming spam calls as “scam likely,” but some may offer extra protections for an additional small fee [*].

What about the Do Not Call registry? Unfortunately, this registry can only prevent legitimate telemarketing calls – it won't stop scammers from trying to contact you.

3. Silence all unknown callers

While blocking is a good preventative step, it’s important to remember that scammers often have multiple active numbers — even numbers with the same area code as yours [*].

Your cell phone likely has the option to silence incoming calls from people you don’t know. Here’s what to do:

  • On an iPhone: Go to Settings, scroll to Phone, and then toggle on Silence Unknown Callers. Be aware that this feature is only available for iOS 13 and higher.
  • On an Android: Open the Phone app, tap the three dots and select Settings, tap on Caller ID & Spam, and then select Enable spam protection. You may also see the option to “Automatically screen. Decline robocalls.”

On all Pixel and some Android phones, you can manually screen calls by using Google Assistant [*]. When a call comes in, tap on “Screen call.” The Assistant will then answer for you and ask who is calling and why.

You’ll receive a transcript of the caller’s reply and can then select from a list of responses, such as “Report as spam” or “Is it urgent?” You can also choose to answer the call or hang up.

💡 Related: What To Do If Scammers Have Your Phone Number

4. Report impersonation scams to impacted companies

Call the company’s support number, and file a case. Explain how the scammer contacted you, what they said, and any information you disclosed. The more details you can provide, the better your chances will be of shutting down illegal activity and recovering any lost money.

If you gave out your banking information, cancel your cards and close your accounts. You should also report a scam to government authorities. Take USA.gov’s “Where to report a scam” quiz to find out which agency you should contact.

In order to properly direct you, you’ll be asked what kind of scam you’re reporting (banking, imposter, identity theft, etc.) along with other information. Notifying the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can help others avoid similar scams.

💡 Related: What To Do If You've Been Scammed Over the Phone

5. Download a third-party spam call protection app

Your phone’s native blocking features, and your carrier’s spam protection, only go so far and can often be bypassed by smart scammers.

However, modern AI-powered Call Assistants can screen calls and text messages for known scam language, and automatically block callers or delete dangerous texts. Important and legitimate calls — such as for doctor’s appointments, emergencies, or deliveries — are forwarded, while harmful voicemails and texts go to your junk folder.

6. Remove your phone number from data broker lists

Data brokers gather personal information about hundreds of thousands of people and sell it to businesses and regulatory agencies for marketing purposes. There are very few laws that regulate the purchase of this data, making it a prime resource for fraudsters.

Scammers can buy data broker lists just as easily as any other legitimate business can — and use these lists to find your phone number and other information [*].

To opt out of data broker lists, visit each broker’s website and follow its opt-out process. Some big-name brokers include Acxiom, USPhoneBook, People Finder, Spokeo, and Whitepages.

Alternatively, Identity Guard can automatically scan data broker databases for you and request that they remove your information [*].

💪 Protect yourself from spam and scammers. Identity Guard combines award-winning identity theft protection with automatic data broker removal to protect you from scammers. Save 33% when you sign up for Identity Guard today.

Did You Give Phone Scammers Sensitive Information? Do This

Simply answering a spam call won’t put you in too much danger. But any information you disclose — even your name, address, account details, or even just saying “yes” — can put you at risk of identity theft, fraud, and hacking.

If you accidentally gave up personal information, follow these steps to secure your accounts:

  • Contact law enforcement. If you think someone has stolen your identity, make an official report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov. You may also consider filing an official complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Use your case number when restoring your credit and disputing unauthorized charges.
  • Freeze your credit with all three bureaus. A credit freeze prevents scammers from using your personal information to take out loans or open new accounts in your name. To freeze your credit, contact each of the three credit bureaus individually — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. As a reminder, you can request a free copy of your credit report three times per year, once for each bureau. And until the end of 2023, you can request these reports weekly [*].
  • Contact the fraud department at any impacted company. They may already know about the scam and have a documented process you can follow to lock down your accounts and get your money back.
  • Update your passwords, and enable 2FA whenever possible. Use complex and unique passwords for all of your accounts. For added security, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) by using an authenticator app like Authy or Duo. This secondary security measure requires a special one-time-use code or biometric verification (like your fingerprint) to access your online accounts.
  • Consider signing up for an identity monitoring and protection service. Besides getting near-instant fraud alerts, you can benefit from identity restoration assistance and insurance coverage for losses incurred due to identity theft.
  • Report the scam number to your carrier. Fraudsters can use your phone number to reroute text messages, steal your data, install malware, and even dox you (publicly share or publish your personal information). Your carrier’s customer support team can help you set up a PIN code to prevent anyone else from making changes to your number. While you’re on the line, initiate a SIM lock to stop scammers from SIM swapping your phone.
  • Tell your friends and family. Scammers can use the information you gave them to set up new social media accounts in your name and ask your loved ones for money.

💡 Related: How To Check If Someone Opened an Account In Your Name

The Bottom Line: Don’t Answer Suspicious Calls

Phone scams are pervasive in America, with many fraudsters impersonating representatives of companies that you know and trust.

To stay safe, the best thing you can do is ignore any number you don’t recognize and let it go to voicemail. But without extra protection, it’s easy to forget what to do and inadvertently answer a fraudulent call. Keep scammers at bay, and give yourself peace of mind with Identity Guard.

Over the past 25 years, Identity Guard has protected 38 million consumers from fraudsters and scammers. Its award-winning identity theft protection comes with three-bureau credit monitoring, bank alerts, and personal information exposure notifications. If your identity is compromised, Identity Guard plans offer dedicated, U.S.-based White Glove Fraud Resolution support and a $1 million insurance policy to get you back on track.

Shut down scammers. Save 33% when you sign up for Identity Guard today.
Account Services Call Scams: Everything You Need To Know (2024)
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