How to avoid scams from people acting like banks, credit card companies

I just got a call from someone claiming to work at my bank, She was offering to send me a new credit card with a great reward program but before she could run my credit, she wanted to know my mother’s maiden name. She was taken aback when I asked her to first verify specific line items from my bank transactions. I told her I’m not about to give you my personal info based on a single cold-call. If you are really who you say you are, you can tell me the date/amount of my last electric bill and the auto-insurance bill.

She said I was the only customer to make her answer security questions in the last 6 weeks she has been doing this. She did answer them correctly and also confirmed some other things (related to the physical bank location she claimed to be at) that she wouldn’t know if she was a scammer.

While this one was a legit call, I have had people hang up on me in the past as soon as I asked them to verify something specific from my account / history. I have had smart friends fall for very sophisticated scams because the caller knew their address and last 4 of their social. My advice has been to (1) make them answer specific questions that only the right people will have and if still suspicious (2) tell them to make a note on my account (with their name/extension) that I will call back immediately and then I find the 1-800# from Google and ask the agent to transfer me back to whoever called me.

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