Scammers, Spammers, Robocalls, Oh My!
Sick of telemarketers and phone scammers annoying you every day? Here’s how you can avoid them…
Like most people you’ve probably received the phone call that sounds too good to be true or one that prompts urgent action regarding your credit card account. And then there are the ones you get up to answer and there’s no one on the other end. These are just a few of the examples that not only irritate you but are intended to really harm you such as sucking funds out of your bank account. All they need is one gullible person and their day is made, and unfortunately, there are way too many of those around.
Sometimes these callers sound so official, often naming real companies like Microsoft or government agencies like the IRS. You may have received calls to renew that service or membership you never knew you had. Or how about winning that contest you never entered. And there’s nothing more unnerving than receiving a call that threatens a fine, lawsuit, or jailtime. Oh, and that call with no one on the other end? Simply answering your phone completes its objective, confirming the phone number is “active” and therefore a live target for more callers to do their evil deeds.
What to Do
If you find yourself on the phone with someone you suspect is a fraudster, here are some tips you can do:
1) Do not confirm anything. If they ask you to confirm your name or address, do not confirm it. Don’t reply if they ask if your spouse is at home. Just hang up. These folks seek any information they can get out of you in order to scam you.
2) Don’t give them personal information. Even if you are tempted to, do not provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information. And, if they ask you to, don’t wire money, send cash, or pay with a prepaid debit card.
3) Never say “yes.” A common tactic is for scammers to ask if you can hear them. By answering “yes” to anything they’ve asked, your recorded response will be used as proof that you consented to a purchase or credit card charge.
4) Tell them you’ll call them. These scammers will even give you a call-back number but don’t accept it. You’re safer to look them up instead. If they say they’re from your bank or other company you do business with, you can always call directly from the number listed on your statement. These scammers can be very cunning and send you to a website where “satisfied customers” are featured. Known as “shills” these “customers” are also likely to be fake as well as their glowing reviews.
5) Time is on your side. Don’t feel pressured to take immediate action. Scammers typically set a fictitious deadline. Hang up and your hard-earned money will not soon depart from you.
6) Before you call. Do your homework before calling a company you don’t already know. Check out Google search results on them, any complaints against them, and their Better Business Bureau standing. It’s best to go in educated than risk being bamboozled.
7) The easiest thing to do. Simply hang up on suspicious phone calls. If you have an answering machine, don’t even answer the phone, just let the caller leave a message. You’ll find most scammers won’t leave a message and you’ve saved yourself some aggravation.
8) If you receive a robocall, hang up the phone. Don’t press any key on the phone as this will lead to more robocalls.
9) Caller ID is not always reliable. Scammers have the ability to change phone numbers that appear on your caller ID screen. This activity is called “spoofing.”
Turning the Tables
You can be proactive and help others from becoming victims of phone scammers. Report scams that come from actual people, robocalls, or via text messages to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By reporting phone scams you can help the government collect evidence to build their cases for lawsuits. Here is how you can be a part of the solution:
- Report telephone scams online to the FTC or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC is the government agency that collects and handles scam complaints.
- Report all robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls to the Do Not Call Registry.
- Report caller ID spoofing to the FTC. You can report online or by phone at 1-888-225-5322.
- Register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do No Call Registry. This will help discourage legitimate companies from calling you as they would face stiff fines. But not all unsolicited calls will be prevented. Scammers use the Internet to make their calls from all over the world without any regard to the registry and its penalties.
There are various ways to help protect yourself from these unscrupulous characters. Here are some graphics from FTC to help guide you:
You can check out more information on call blocking tools and services from your wireless provider:
- AT&T Call Protect
- Verizon Call Filter
- T-Mobile Scam ID, Scam Block, Name ID
- Sprint Premium Caller ID
- U.S. Cellular Call Guardian
Additional apps are available for unwanted robocalls, check out recommended and reviewed apps by top media outlets:
- “In 2019 Here’s How To Stop And Block Robocalls, Spam, And Unknown Calls On iPhone, Android,” Forbes
- “How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls” PC Magazine
- “How to stop robocalls, block numbers on your iPhone, Android and even landline,” USA Today
- For more apps, check out CTIA’s lists for Android, BlackBerry, iOS (Apple) and Windows.
Ever since it became illegal to send robocalls to cellphones, marketing and polling efforts have doubled down on those who still have landlines. If you have a land line, there are several top-rated call blocking devices and phone systems, check out “10 Best Block Unwanted Phone Calls” and read up on which device serves your needs best.
At Throomers, we enjoy bringing you valuable information you can use to help protect yourself from phone scams. Don’t become a victim, stay safe!