Turn the Tables: What to Say to a Scammer to Scare Them Away

effective ways to scare away a scammer

Phone and text scams are on the rise. They aren’t surprising anymore, and many people know they exist. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost $10 billion to fraud in 2023 alone, which is 14% more than in 2022.

Among the scams people usually fall for are investment scams and imposter scams. Job opportunities, online shopping, and sweepstakes are also paving the way for scammers to trick unsuspecting individuals.

All these scams are mainly happening over phone, text messages, emails, and on social media, the most common means of communication.

This article cuts to the chase, providing direct advice on what to say to a scammer to scare them with confidence. Anticipate a mix of assertive responses, tech-savvy talk, and psychological playbooks that’ll make fraudsters think twice.

Confronting Scammers: Assertive Responses to Intimidate

Demand Proof of Identity

Asking for verifiable credentials or proof of identity is a method to question a scammer’s identity and deter their approach. You could even request a video call to ensure the individual is who they say they are. To verify the identity of someone who claims to represent a known company, contact the company through a known trustworthy website or phone number, rather than clicking on any links in emails or text messages.

Threaten With Legal Consequences

Threatening legal action by mentioning law enforcement or involving a lawyer can create fear and uncertainty in the scammer, causing them to think twice about continuing fraudulent activities. Some effective strategies to use include:

  • Mentioning the tracing of calls and providing specific details about their location.
  • Indicating that you’ve already involved or will involve the authorities.
  • Expressing knowledge of their illegal activities and the potential legal repercussions.

When scammers sense that the potential victim is taking steps to trace their location or involve authorities, they may take a step back.

Mentioning specific laws or regulations that govern fraudulent activities can imply you have specialized legal knowledge that could be a threat to the scammer.

Expose Their Tactics

Scammers often employ tactics that create a sense of urgency, intimidation, or fear to pressure victims into acting hastily and without proper verification. They may send alarmist messages falsely claiming to be from a recognizable company or use phishing emails that appear to come from a trusted source.

Demonstrating awareness of these deceitful strategies by discussing them openly with the scammer signals that you can recognize and potentially report the scam, which may deter the scammer from persisting.

Disrupting the Script: Confuse and Frustrate Scammers

talking to a phone scammer

Another effective way to deal with scammers is to disrupt their script. Scammers usually follow a certain script or pattern in their communication, and disrupting this can throw them off their game.

You can engage them with continuous, detailed questions about their offer and repeatedly change your mind to waste their time and energy. Playing along with the scammer can involve pretending to go along with the scam but subtly changing the details or asking for more specific information.

You could also introduce a bit of humor in your responses. Asking con artists funny questions or involving a pet to create an absurd dialogue can confuse them. Another effective strategy is to respond to a text scammer with what appears to be automated messages.

Here are some other ways to give fraudsters a taste of their own medicine:

Use Complex Terminology

Introducing complex terminology not found in scammers’ scripts can confuse them and undermine their routine approach. Using specific industry jargon related to cybersecurity or fraud prevention can convey to scammers that you possess insider knowledge.

Give Noncommittal Replies

Noncommittal replies such as “That’s interesting, but I’ll need to think about it,” can frustrate scammers as they need clear answers to manipulate their targets. Having a ready-made noncommittal response like “I need to check my schedule” or “It sounds interesting, but I need to give it a night’s sleep” can be effective in delaying the conversation with scammers.

Mimic Their Messages

This tactic can be particularly effective when dealing with text scams, as it can confuse the con artist and make it harder for them to manipulate the conversation. Copying and pasting the scammer’s own message back to them disrupts their efforts and throws them off balance.

Psychological Warfare: Guilt and Empathy as Weapons

Questioning a scammer’s ethics can prompt them to reflect on the morality of their actions, potentially leading to feelings of guilt and a reevaluation of their scamming activity. Empathy can also be a potent tool against them. When victims bring up personal questions and empathize with the scammer, it can unsettle and discourage them from continuing their fraudulent behavior.

Question Their Morality

Questioning a scammer’s morality can be an effective way to induce guilt and deter further scamming activities.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Ask a scammer how they would feel if their family was targeted by a scam. This can personalize the issue and prompt reflection on their actions.
  2. Highlight the real-world damage caused by scams and ask them to consider the impact on their victims.
  3. Appeal to their sense of empathy and ask them to imagine themselves in the shoes of their victims.
  4. Remind them that their actions have consequences and that they have the power to choose a different path.

The rationale for moral questioning hinges on the premise that even scammers may have a conscience that could be pricked by contemplating the real-world damage of their actions.

Display False Vulnerability

Pretending to be deeply affected by the scam can tap into the scammer’s emotions and potentially trigger empathy, which may cause them to rethink their approach. Anecdotal evidence shows that invoking a personal crisis, such as feigning to have a serious illness, has led some scammers to feel guilty.

Emotional manipulation is a central tactic in scammers’ arsenals, but when victims display an unexpected level of emotional vulnerability, it can reverse the dynamic, suggesting that the scammer no longer holds control.

Defensive Measures: Protect Your Information and Privacy

don't click on links in text spam messages

Protecting your computer and phone with security software and setting it to update automatically can help to combat newly emerging security threats. Always be cautious about clicking links in spam text messages as they may direct you to fake websites or infect your phone with malware.

Stay vigilant in handling emails and contact requests by verifying the identity of the requester on Nuwber. No matter how convincing the scammer sounds, it’s important to find out who they truly are and what they’re up to. Remember, if they gain access to your sensitive information, you can become a victim of identity theft and lose your hard-earned money.

Don’t Share Personal Details

Legitimate businesses and organizations won’t ask for personal or financial information such as Social Security number, bank account details, or credit card numbers through unsolicited communications. It’s critical to resist immediate action when asked for personal information or payment, as reputable companies will allow decision-making time.

Make Your Phone Number Private

Social media platforms may broadcast your phone number by default. That’s why it’s necessary to regularly review and modify privacy settings to keep your phone number private. Also, don’t mention your phone number on forums or any other platforms.

Utilize in-app or on-site chat functions, or use masked email addresses, when engaging in online selling or buying, to avoid the need to share your personal phone number.

Filter Unknown Senders

Block unwanted text messages and filter messages from unknown senders. This can help prevent spam text messages and keep your inbox clutter-free. On an iPhone, go to the Settings app, select Messages, and toggle on “Filter Unknown Senders” to filter messages from numbers not in your contacts. To block text messages on Android, open the Messages app, press and hold a message, tap the three dots, and select “Block” to prevent texts from that number.

Proactive Reporting: Help Shut Down Scams

Reporting scams is crucial to protect personal information and prevent scammers from targeting others. Educate friends, family, and colleagues on how to recognize and avoid fraudulent tactics to enhance the protection of your wider community.

Scammers send out an estimated 2,695,229,046 spam texts every week, illustrating the pervasive scale of scamming activities. Here’s how you can distance them from achieving their goals:

Report to FTC’s Report Fraud Site

To report scams, individuals should visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov, where they can provide details including the scam description, the company or person involved, or details of an unwanted call or message. After submitting a report to ReportFraud.ftc.gov, individuals receive advice on further steps to take to protect themselves from fraud. Information submitted to the website is utilized by over 2,800 law enforcers for investigations and legal cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices.

Block and Report Spam Texts

Forwarding unsolicited text messages to 7726 (SPAM) can aid your wireless provider in identifying and blocking future spam text message occurrences.

Android users can block and report spam texts directly within the Google Messages app by using the “Block & report spam” option.

Advanced Scare Tactics: When You Want to Go the Extra Mile

use scammers' methods against them

Fake a Bad Connection

Pretending to have a bad phone connection can convey to the scammer that you’re not an easy target for their scam. Introducing pauses or static noise during a call can give the impression of a bad connection. Repetitively asking the scammer to speak up or repeat themselves can suggest to them that they’re not being heard clearly.

Pretending the call is dropping with repeated “hello’s” can create a sense of a failing connection. Simulating a rotary dial system’s interruptions can further convince the scammer of a genuine poor connection.

Silent Treatment Strategy

Remaining silent or just breathing heavily into the phone can create an unsettling atmosphere for the scammer and make them feel unsure of how to proceed. Giving minimal responses or no response at all can lead to an awkward and disconcerting situation for fraudsters, which might prompt them to end the conversation.

The silent treatment strategy plays on the discomfort and uncertainty induced in scammers, often resulting in them disconnecting the call or ceasing communication.


Dealing with scammers involves a blend of assertiveness, disruption, psychology, defensive measures, proactive reporting, and advanced scare tactics. By questioning their identity, threatening legal consequences, and exposing their tactics, you confront scammers head-on. Disrupting their script through complex terminology, noncommittal replies, and mimicking their messages can throw them off balance.

Questioning their morality and displaying false vulnerability can engage them on a personal and emotional level, potentially leading to feelings of guilt and a reevaluation of their actions. Keeping personal details and phone numbers private, filtering unknown senders, and proactively reporting scams to relevant authorities can help protect your information and privacy.


What to say to a scammer to scare them?

Inform the scammer that their number has been reported to the authorities and their information is being tracked to scare them and deter further scam attempts. This may lead them to believe that they could face legal consequences.

How can I punish a scammer?

It’s important to leave punishment to the legal authorities and the justice system, as taking matters into your own hands can lead to legal consequences and potentially dangerous situations. State and federal laws determine the criminal penalties for fraud.

How do you expose a scammer?

To expose a scammer, gather evidence such as screenshots or recordings of the scam, financial records, and any contracts or agreements related to the scam. This will help in presenting a clear case against the scammer.

What are some ways to disrupt a scammer’s script?

To disrupt a scammer’s script, use complex terminology, give noncommittal replies, and mimic their messages. This can confuse and frustrate them, making it more difficult for them to continue their fraudulent activity.

How can I use psychological warfare against scammers?

It’s possible to use psychological warfare against scammers by questioning their morality and displaying false vulnerability. By invoking guilt and empathy in scammers, you can make them reconsider their actions.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.