Identifying and Avoiding Phone Scams

Every year, people report fraud, identity theft and bad business practices to law enforcement partners and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 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 phone call is $1,2oo, higher than any other contact method.

When working from home, you’re likely using your computer and phone often, creating opportunities for potential scammers. Technology has made this even easier as scammers leverage robocalls or spoofing tools to change phone numbers.

Trust your gut if something seems off or too good to be true. Here are some general red flags that the party on the other end of a call or text is a scammer:

  • They pretend to be a familiar organization.
  • They say there’s a problem or prize.
  • They pressure you to act immediately.
  • They tell you to pay in a specific way.

Follow these seven tips from the FTC to avoid phone scams:

  • Block unwanted calls and text messages through your phone company or mobile apps.
  • Register your number on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers and hang up if you answer a robocall.
  • Never provide your personal or financial information in response to an unexpected request.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately based on a call or text since a legitimate business will provide you ample time to decide or provide payment.
  • Don’t click on any links in texts, even if the message is from a company you usually do business with and seems real.
  • Talk to someone you trust after receiving a suspicious call or text, as doing so could help you realize it’s a scam.

If you spot a scam or have given money to a scammer, report it to the FTC by filing a consumer complaint online or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

Tips for Collaborating Over Different Time Zones

With more employees working remotely following the pandemic, teams are more dispersed than ever. All workplace models come with their own set of advantages and challenges. One such hurdle for remote work revolves around time zones.

Most remote teams span multiple time zones. According to Buffer, nearly 60% of remote workers said their company operates in two to five time zones. Furthermore, 19% work in teams that span six to 10 time zones and only 2% responded that their entire company works in a single time zone.

If you’re on a remote team scattered across the country or globe, it may sometimes feel challenging to collaborate and work efficiently with teammates. Consider the following best practices for remote work collaboration across different time zones:

  • Share schedules. The first step in working across time zones is understanding where everyone else is. If not already done, suggest teammates consider sharing their current time zone and working hours. This exercise can help the team be more respectful of each other’s time, and encourage transparency and accountability. However, make sure employees do not feel pressured to share more information than they are comfortable with and don’t share information that employees would like kept confidential.
  • Set and respect boundaries. Teams should maintain an open dialogue about respecting time zone boundaries. Once colleagues’ work hours and boundaries are established and known, it’s important to respect them. For example, schedule a virtual meeting within everyone’s active work hours rather than making some teammates call in early or late in the day.
  • Be mindful of co-workers’ time zones. Temper your expectation of a timely response when scheduling meetings or sending messages. If you know a co-worker is offline, acknowledge that in your message and remove any urgency for a response.
  • Be specific with dates and times. To cut down on any confusion, it’s critical to include exact dates and time zones for deadlines, calls, meetings and other critical components of your workday.
  • Use the right communication channel(s). Effective communication between teammates is key in order to follow through on collaboration expectations. Some workplaces may promote communication over email and other channels instead of unnecessary meetings.
  • Leverage project management tools. If project management or other workflow tools are available, they can help streamline your communication and work. Software and technology can help everyone be on the same page about a work project, regardless of when they’re logging on.

Working well with colleagues from different parts of the world comes down to being mindful and respectful of time zones and schedules. Remote workers can benefit from collaborating more effectively and efficiently while fostering strong relationships with dispersed peers. Talk with you supervisor if you have collaboration concerns or suggestions.