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Attack of the Robocallers! (Part 2)

What can you do to stop robocallers and avoid being a victim of phone scams?

What can you do to stop robocallers and avoid being a victim of phone scams?

After our rather alarming review of robocall tactics and consequences, we’re back to share some ways you can fight back and protect yourself from robocall scams. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers the following advice:

  • Make sure you have created Contacts on your mobile phone for all of the family, friends, doctors, dentists, etc., who call you most frequently, so their name shows up in Caller ID when they call.
  • You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is a scam. Be aware: Caller ID showing a “local” number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller. Unless you’re expecting to hear from someone who is not in your Contact List, don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, especially those that appear to come from overseas. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • You can always return a voicemail if you don’t answer a call from a friend or family member. Voicemail messages from scammers in one of the categories mentioned above should be pretty obvious. Or they may not leave a message at all. In either case, use the “Block Caller” function on your mobile phone or landline, if you have one, to prevent them from disturbing you again, at least from that phone number. If you’re not sure if you have a Block Caller option on your phone, talk to your phone company about tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller—or a recording—asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets. Frequently check your phone bill for unusual or suspicious charges.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.” The scammers can record your voice, then fraudulently splice it into what seems like a statement giving them permission to sign you up for an expensive service.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. Your bank, credit card company, the government or any other legitimate source will usually ask for a payment via a written statement in the mail before calling you on the phone.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.
  • If you have become a frequent target of scammers and are willing to pay a fee to make them stop, look into subscribing to a flagging and robocall-blocking service, such as:  HiyaNomoroboRoboKillerTNSTruecaller and YouMail.
  • If you use robocall-blocking technology already, it often helps to let that company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls, so they can help block those calls for you and others.
  • To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list. If you still receive calls from scammers and telemarketers, report the number to the FTC at donotcall.gov.
  • In the U.S., you can also file a complaint with the FCC, or the Federal Trade Commission(FTC), as the agencies choose which robocallers to pursue for legal or regulatory enforcement based partly on these complaints. You can also report the robocalls to the office of your state’s attorney general.
  • Finally, make yourself less of a target by never giving out your numbers online or posting them publicly in your social media profiles, as they will likely be scraped by scammers.

If you have been a victim of an online scam, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.

We hope this information has been helpful in educating you and your family members about potential the hazards of robocalls. Cell phones and landlines are so critical for our residents to stay connected with friends and family, we hate to see anything – especially relentless and nefarious robots – come between them.

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, August, 2019. Some content was provided by malawarebytes.com, prnewsire.com and washingtonpost.com.