Safety Tips For Your Holiday Decorating Needs

holiday decorating

holiday decoratingIt’s cooling down and holiday spirit is in the air. For many, it’s time to start holiday decorating! While holiday decorating adds beauty to your home, it can also bring added risk. Trees, garlands, and lights can add extra fire hazards if not used properly. The last thing you want for Christmas is a homeowners insurance claim to deal with. But don’t worry, we have a few tips to keep your home and your family safe this holiday.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Keep a fresh-cut tree outdoors and cover the trunk in snow, or immerse it in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate it.
  • When you are ready to put up a live tree, cut a 1- or 2-inch diagonal off the bottom of the trunk. The new cut will help the tree to absorb water, which preserves its freshness.
  • Select a spot for the tree that is at least three feet away from a heat source.
  • Put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water.
  • Once a tree becomes dried out, do not keep it in your home or garage, as it is highly flammable.

Holiday Lighting Safety

  • Mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard, so keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors.
  • Always buy lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, such as UL, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings before using them. Throw away any that appear damaged.
  • When hanging your lights, string lights together using built-in connectors. Do not join more than 200 midget lights or 50 larger lamps through one string or cord.
  • Do not connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
  • Remember to unplug all decorations and lights, both inside and outside your home, before leaving or going to bed.
  • If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse blows again, a short circuit may be present. Throw the faulty light string or decoration away, or if it is new, return it for a refund.
  • When hanging lights outside use a ladder made of non conductive materials to reduce the risk of electrocution.

Candle Safety

  • Place candles in stable holders and in a spot where they cannot be easily disturbed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid placing candles near flammable objects.
  • Keep burning candles out of the reach of children.

Taking extra precautions while decorating can be the difference between a relaxing holiday season or a tragic holiday season.

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Helping You Prepare for the Fall and Winter Virus Season

Virus Season

Virus SeasonFall and winter are when viruses that cause respiratory disease usually circulate more heavily. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) were the main causes of severe respiratory disease during these times of year. Although some people have mild symptoms when they catch the flu or RSV, others get sick enough to be hospitalized. Some seasons are more severe than others based on strains of the viruses circulating and immunity to these viruses.

Respiratory disease season lasts from October through May in the United States, peaking between December and February. The timing and duration of virus activity have been unpredictable since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports early increases in some viruses, employers can plan to prepare for peak activity. Furthermore, the CDC predicts a possible increase in hospitalizations due to new COVID-19 variants or a severe flu season paired with waves of COVID-19 and RSV cases.

With respiratory infections likely in the fall and winter seasons, it’s important for employers to consider ways to mitigate or address illness among employees to help keep workers healthy and productive. This article highlights best practices for employers during the 2023-24 virus season.

Employer Guidance

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health emergency have officially ended, the coronavirus still has the potential to disrupt workplaces for the foreseeable future. As other respiratory viruses and infections spread during the fall and winter, employers should do their due diligence and continue incorporating employee health and safety in current workplace plans, policies and benefits.

Consider the following best practices for addressing employee health and safety during the 2023-24 respiratory virus season:

  • Review organizational risks. Even though there are no longer any federal, state or local mandates related to COVID-19, employers can independently assess exposures and determine how to respond. Employers could identify the hazards and risks for their on-site workplaces and implement controls (e.g., personal protective equipment and administrative or engineering controls).
  • Establish remote work policies. If the workforce is primarily on-site, employers can consider having a backup plan to allow employees to work from home when dealing with virus-related symptoms. Some respiratory illnesses may not be debilitating in all cases, so employees can still work but remain isolated to reduce the chances of others getting infected.
  • Review paid time off and leave policies. Expanding leave policies, including allowing negative balances in paid time off banks and leave donation or sharing programs, could be helpful to employees battling illness in these seasons. Policies may also accommodate employees to take time off when they or their family members are sick.
  • Encourage healthy employee behaviors. Employee education is critical for healthy employee behavior changes. Vaccinations have been shown to reduce hospitalizations, so employers can encourage employees to get vaccinated. This fall, vaccines for the flu, RSV and COVID-19 are available. Aside from vaccinations, people need to get a good night’s sleep, stay active and drink plenty of water to keep their immune systems strong. Employers could also encourage workers to eat a nutritious diet of healthy grains, fruits, vegetables and fiber. Employee benefits could support these aspects of personal health and wellness or even incentivize healthy behaviors.
  • Keep cleaning supplies on hand. If employees are working on-site, it can be beneficial to have hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies available for employee use. Businesses can encourage good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of illnesses.
  • Foster open communication. Employers can encourage employees to talk to their managers if they’re experiencing any health issues, including long-lasting ones that may impact their performance. Training for managers could also help them respond appropriately to such conversations, which could properly address employee concerns, strengthen employee well-being and reduce legal risks.

In general, employers must stay agile and accommodating while adapting to the post-pandemic workplace. Without local, state or federal COVID-19-related mandates, employers have more ownership of how they address the respiratory season while protecting and supporting their workforces.

For More Information

Along with the flu and RSV, COVID-19 has become a part of the respiratory virus season. As infections and hospitalizations are expected, employers can review workplace policies and consider ways to protect and support employees who may catch a respiratory infection this season.

For the latest updates about the current respiratory disease season, visit the CDC’s website. Contact us today for additional workplace strategy guidance.

Tips on How To Maintain A Healthy Social Well-being

Social well-being

Social well-beingMaintaining a healthy level of social well-being benefits your overall health and relationships around you. Social well-being is the sharing, developing and sustaining meaningful connections with others. Benefits of social well-being can include being comfortable where you are in social situations, increased self-esteem, the ability to create healthy boundaries and helping build emotional resilience.

Without awareness of your social well-being, you risk becoming socially isolated. Social isolation is the withdrawal from human relationships and can lead to feelings of fear and loneliness.

Loneliness can negatively affect your health, including behaviors, mental health, physical health and mortality risk. A sense of belonging is crucial to the way humans function and correlates with feelings of loneliness if someone doesn’t feel they belong.

Building the foundation for healthy social well-being can be difficult, especially when it’s not something you’re used to.

Tips for Managing Social Well-being

Here are some best practices to maintain social well-being. 

Make connections.

You can make connections at any phase of life. Whether you just started a new job, moved to a new state or switched communities, you can work through creating new relationships. A large part of making new connections is getting involved in any social events in your communities, whether at work or in your personal life.

Get involved.

Find new events or groups to be a part of in your community, whether through a volunteer opportunity at work or a local event. If you’re unsure how to get involved, think of your hobbies. Research events related to your hobbies in the area or try learning something new. If your neighborhood has events, get involved. Helping others can reduce loneliness, so finding volunteer opportunities can also benefit our social well-being as we make new connections.

Bond with your loved ones.

Strong relationships are essential no matter your phase of life. Before building new connections, you are protecting and caring for your current contacts is necessary. Spend time with your loved ones without distractions. Unplug and stay engaged.

Invest in yourself.

Taking care of yourself before anyone else is crucial when discussing social well-being. If you’re at your best, you can be at your best for your friends, colleagues and loved ones alike. You are caring for others’ needs before yours consistently can lead to increased stress. Be sure to balance your time wisely.


It’s become more accessible than ever to connect, but it’s also easier to isolate. Socially connecting in person with loved ones and properly caring for your own needs can help you care for your social well-being. For more information on social well-being, contact us today.

Important Insurance Tips For Your College Student

Insurance tips for your college student

Insurance tips for your college student

High School is over and it’s time for the next big step, college. The new students schedule is done, books are purchased and the day is approaching fast for the big move. New furniture, décor and electronics are all packed and ready to go. Before your college student can begin their next adventure you have one last item to complete on your check list. Talking with your insurance agent. While that may seem like an odd item to have on your checklist, it is probably one of the most important. Your insurance agent will have important insurance tips for your college student. When your child leaves home and takes up a new residence at college, that can affect how their belongings are covered. Below are a few questions you may have when it comes to insurance and your college student.

Will my college student’s belongings be covered by my homeowners policy?

Does your child lives in a campus dorm? There is usually a small amount of coverage that would be extended from your homeowners policy. If your child has expensive items, or a lot of items, you may need to consider purchasing additional coverage. Does your child lives in off campus housing? Their belongings may not be covered at all.

Is renters insurance really necessary?

Yes. Chances are your child’s belongings will exceed the amount provided by your homeowners policy, if they are even covered at all. Renters insurance will cover the possessions in your child’s housing at a small cost. You can purchase renters insurance for as little as $15 per month. This will not only give you the extra coverage, but peace of mind that that expensive new laptop or TV will be protected in the event of fire, theft, or other disaster.

In addition to your college students belongings, the move to college can affect your auto coverage and health coverage.

Will your child move more than 100 miles away from home?

If this answer is yes and they do not keep a vehicle at school, your insurance premiums could decrease by as much as 30%. If they are taking a car with them, be sure to review your auto coverage with your agent. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage and your child understands how it works in the event of a claim.

Does my child need to purchase health insurance?

In the state of Ohio, many health insurance carriers are now required to coverage children up to age 26. This rule applies regardless of full time student status. Be sure to review your health coverage to verify the dependent age limit on your plan. Also, make sure your child has an ID card with them if they should need to see a Dr or get a Prescription. They should also understand how the coverage works and if there is any copay they will be responsible for if they should have to use the coverage.

Sending a child to college can be a scary yet exciting time for everyone. When you add your insurance agent to your list of people to talk to during this transition, it can help give you peace of mind for you and your child’s future insurance needs. Remember, your agent is a great source for insurance tips for your college student.

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You Need To Know These 4 School Bus Safety Tips

School Bus Safety

School Bus SafetySummer is almost over and our local schools are gearing up for the new school year. With school back in session, that also means school buses will be back on the road. Chances are you’ve gone over some school bus safety tips with your kids and what they need to know as riders. But have you reviewed the school bus safety tips you need to remember as a driver? Or gone over them with your new teen drivers? 

School Bus Safety

Being extra cautious around buses are critical. After all, they carrier the most precious cargo. In the next few weeks when you start seeing buses on the road, keep in mind these 4 tips. 

  1. Be prepared to stop when you see the bus driver turn on the flashing red lights and raise the stop sign; a passenger is getting off.
  2. Never pass a stopped school bus that is unloading students.
  3. Remember that buses stop at railroad tracks so keep your distance as you approach them.
  4. Obey speed limits in school zones and give school buses the right-of-way

Start the new school year off on the right foot. While the increased traffic is a little of on inconvenience, everyone’s safety should be the #1 concern this year.

From your friends at Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance, have a great 2021-2022 school year! 

Avoid Heat Illnesses This Summer With These 7 Crucial Tips

Heat Illnesses

Extreme summer temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they are also dangerous for your health. This is particularly true for older adults and children, who are more susceptible to illness. When it is hot outside, your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels. Normally, your body cools itself through sweating. However, in hot and humid weather, sweating is not enough and the result can heat illnesses.

Avoiding Heat Illnesses

Here are some tips for staying safe when you’re out in the heat:

  1. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so your skin gets air exposure.
  2. Shield your head and face from direct sunlight by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Avoid spending time outdoors during the middle of the day, when temperatures are highest and the sun is directly overhead.
  4. Take regular breaks in a shaded area if you’re involved in a strenuous activity.
  5. Drink water frequently, even if you aren’t thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks while avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you.
  6. Monitor children and seniors carefully, since they can get dehydrated more easily.
  7. Call 911 if someone exhibits symptoms of heat stroke, such as flushed skin, rapid breathing, a throbbing headache or confusion.

Providing Treatment for Heat Illnesses

It is essential to treat heat illness as soon as possible. If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, inform a co-worker and ask for help. If you suspect that a fellow worker has any of these conditions, follow the first-aid suggestions below:

  • Heat Cramps – Move the victim to a cooler area and provide them with water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages. Follow up with a medical examination.
  • Heat Exhaustion – Move the victim to a cooler area and keep them lying down with their legs slightly elevated. Cool their body by fanning and applying cool, wet towels. Have them drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
  • Heat Stroke – You or a bystander should immediately call an ambulance. Meanwhile, move the victim to a cooler area, remove their outer clothing, immerse them in cool water or apply cool, wet towels or cloths to the body. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give them small amounts of cool water to drink. If medical help is delayed, call the hospital for further instructions while waiting. Heat stroke is life-threatening, so it’s important to move quickly!

Stay Safe

The risk of heat illness increases with age, poor diet, being overweight, insufficient liquid intake, poor physical condition and/or when taking medication. Never take salt tablets without your doctor’s approval. Be aware of weather conditions when you will be working outside so that you can be prepared with appropriate clothing and beverages. If you are working outside and start to feel any adverse symptoms,  let someone know and take a break.

Click here to read more Heat Illness Safety Tips from the CDC

Important Workplace First Aid Basics Everyone Needs To Know

First Aid

A workplace accident requires prompt action to help employees who are injured. For example, if you are nearby when a co-worker trips and hurts their leg on the job, your knowledge of first aid could prove essential.

First aid refers to the immediate assistance provided to an injured individual. This assistance is intended to prevent the injured person’s condition from worsening, promote recovery and offer support until professional medical services arrive. Here are some scenarios that may require first aid and other basic precautions to consider.

Cuts and Lacerations

Should an individual receive a cut, the most important action is to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. Have the injured person lie down, then apply direct pressure on the wound with a sterile pad or the cleanest piece of cloth you can find. If the cloth becomes saturated with blood, add more pads or cloths and secure them with a bandage.

If the wound is on an arm or a leg, and the blood flow is particularly hard to stop, you can try pressing on the brachial or femoral arteries to reduce the flow. Always seek immediate medical attention amid any incident involving profuse bleeding.


You may also need to work with chemicals from time to time. Should chemicals get into someone’s eye, use the emergency eyewash station. If one is unavailable or not nearby, dilute the chemical by pouring water into the eye. Pour at least a quart of water into the corner of the eye so that it runs over the surface and flows out the other side.

If chemicals get onto an individual’s skin, wash the area repeatedly with large amounts of water. Remove any contaminated clothing. Check the label on the chemical to see if any additional steps should be taken. Call 911 if the affected individual experiences dizziness, nausea, chest pains or shortness of breath.


If a foreign particle gets embedded into someone’s eye, do not try to remove it like you would a chemical. Instead, have the injured person lie flat, place a sterile pad over the eye, bandage it in place and seek medical help immediately. Avoid movement that could drive the particle deeper into the eye. If the particle is under the eyelid or floating on the surface of the eyeball, you can try removing it with the corner of a clean piece of cloth. However, never rub someone’s eye when trying to remove a particle from it.


A severe accident or injury often brings on a condition called shock. A person experiencing shock may appear weak or confused, have cold or clammy skin, feel nauseous or display vacant eyes with dilated pupils.

To help someone in shock, place the individual on their back and elevate their feet unless head or chest injuries are present. Then, raise their head and shoulders with pillows. Next, place blankets over and under their body to conserve heat. Don’t administer any fluids unless professional medical services are delayed for at least 30 minutes. If that is the case, give the individual half a glass of plain, lukewarm water every 15 minutes. Stop providing fluids if the person becomes nauseated.


Remember, first aid is the best immediate response to an injury, but you should always seek appropriate medical attention afterward.

Reach out to your supervisor for additional first-aid resources.

First Aid


5 Tips for Staying Safe in the Summer Sun

summer sun

summer sunThe long and warm days of summer can be fun and exciting, but while these conditions may be enjoyable, they can also be hazardous to your health.

Prolonged exposure to the sun can have a particularly dangerous impact on both your short- and long-term health, including damaged skin, sunburn and skin cancer. Given these potentially severe consequences, it’s necessary to understand basic precautions while out in the sun.

5 Ways to Protect Yourself From the Sun

To limit your risk of developing skin cancer or other sun-related conditions, consider the following steps:

  1. Think about the time. If possible, schedule your time outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid the strongest sunlight and greatest exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
  2. Check the forecast. Before you head outdoors for the day, be aware of the weather that awaits you. High temperatures and particularly sunny conditions may be dangerous.
  3. Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to any bare skin at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you plan to swim or be in the water.
  4. Seek out shade. Take advantage of any available shade while outdoors, such as next to buildings or under large trees. If you expect to be out in the open for an extended period of time, bring an umbrella.
  5. Protect your eyes. The strong sunlight of summer can be hazardous for your optical health. Wear sunglasses while outdoors and consider bringing a brimmed hat as well.

Keep these tips in mind to have a fun and safe time enjoying the summer sun. 

Severe Thunderstorms; How To Prepare And Stay Safe

Severe Thunderstorms

Severe ThunderstormsSevere thunderstorms produce lightning, which is extremely dangerous. Though lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2014, there were 26 fatalities from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of severe thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities—more than 140 every year—than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

Before a Thunderstorm and Lighting

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment before the storm arrives.

Facts about Thunderstorms

  • They may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.
  • A single thunderstorm affecting one location for an extended time can be more severe than other storms.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  • About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe; these storms generally produce hail at least an inch or larger in diameter and have winds of 58 miles per hour or higher. They can also produce tornadoes.

Facts about Lightning

  • Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000, but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
  • Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning

If severe thunderstorms and lightning are occurring in your area, you should do the following:

  • Use a battery-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged into electrical outlets for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items, such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach and boats on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal, such as tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

Lightning Safety When Outdoors

If you are: Then:
In a forest Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike) Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

After a Thunderstorm or Lighting Strike

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 911 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing – if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat – if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse – if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.

After the storm passes, remember the following:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Water can damage your vehicle and poses a drowning hazard.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

In addition to insuring your home, Rinehart, Walters & Danner Insurance Agency is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. Severe thunderstorms are a regular occurrence in Ohio and everyone should be prepared. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us today.

8 Ways To Identify and Avoid Phone Scams

avoid phone scams

avoid phone scamsEvery year, people report fraud, identity theft and bad business practices to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement partners. According to FTC data, more than 2.8 million people reported fraud in 2021, and 1 in 4 said they also lost money. The median loss in scams that start with a call is $1,200, higher than any other contact method.

As such, the chances are likely that you have or will be on the receiving end of a phone scam. Technology has made this even easier as scammers leverage robocalls or spoofing tools to change phone numbers. This article highlights the warning signs of scams and tips on how to avoid phone scams.

Warning Signs

Recognizing the common signs of a scam could help you avoid falling for one. Here are some general indications that a call or text is a scam:

  • Scammers pretend to be from a familiar organization. Scammers may pose as someone from a charity, utility company, law enforcement or federal agencies. They may use a real organization name or make up something that sounds official.
  • Scammers say there’s a problem or a prize. Remember, if you have to pay to get the prize, it’s not really a prize.
  • Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to think about their offer. Real businesses won’t make you stay on the phone (so you can’t check out the story) nor threaten to arrest you, sue you or take away your driver’s license.
  • Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way. There’s never a good reason to send cash, pay with a gift card, wire money or pay using a transfer app. These methods make it difficult for you to get your money back, which is ideal for scammers.

Phone scams come in many forms, but they often make similar promises or threats. Trust your gut if something seems off or too good to be true.

Consumer Tips

To prevent unwanted robocalls and phony texts and potentially avoid phone scams, the FTC recommends the following tips:

  1. Block unwanted calls and text messages. Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls and text messages.
  2. Register your number on the Do Not Call Registry. Legitimate telemarketers consult this list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.
  3. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer a robocall, hang up immediately. Remember that even though caller ID may show a “local” number, the call isn’t necessarily from a local caller, as it could be spoofed.
  4. Don’t provide your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email or text to ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers.
  5. Understand how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or a money transfer service. Additionally, you should never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
  6. Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will provide you time to make a decision or provide payment. If it seems rushed or threatening, it’s likely a scammer.
  7. Don’t click on any links even if you get a text from a company you usually do business with and think it’s real. Instead, contact the company using a trustworthy website or look up their phone number. Don’t call the number they provided or the number from your caller ID.
  8. Talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything, tell a friend, family member, neighbor or other trusted person what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

If you spot a scam or have given money to a scammer, you can report it to the FTC by filing a consumer complaint online or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). You can also visit the agency’s website to learn more about other consumer topics and more ways to protect yourself from scammers.

Please share with others to help them avoid phone scams also.