You are expecting an urgent business call. When the phone rings, you don’t recognize the number, but you pick up. Instead of your expected call, you hear the voice of a sales representative with a heavy foreign accent, asking for your bank account information. It is annoying.
Or even worse, you talk to someone that tells you that you owe money to the IRS and have to make an immediate deposit. Regardless of the content of the call, it wastes your time and can be potentially dangerous. But, do we citizens have any way to fight back? Is there anything that we can do to protect our numbers from spammers? Only during May of 2019, 700 million calls were reported to the FCC. These calls can make all fall in some of the following categories:
- Easy money or winning prize scams
- Social Security scams
- Health insurance scams
What Can We Do?
- Find more information about the numbers calling you. Use CheckPeople.com to perform a reverse phone search and find out who registered the name. This will make it easier to report.
- Install Security Apps: Some apps use databases to block known spam numbers and are available for IOS and Android smartphones.
- Block and report spam numbers
- Registeryourtelephonelines to the “Do Not Call Registry.” While not all calls are blocked, it helps in screening the most known scams.
- Write to your county and state representatives and ask for better call-center regulations.
- If possible, don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize
- Inform yourself to recognize scam calls and help educate your family (especially children and senior citizens, who are the most vulnerable) to do the same.
- Never agree to send money or provide any personal information requested on a telephone conversation.
- Ask your carrier company for their resources to fight against scam calls, most of them have taken essential steps to protect customers.
- Never engage in any conversation with known scammers. Whileitmightseem fun to tease them, the longer you stay on the line with them, the more vulnerable you become.
Robo-calls account for nearly 85 billion calls globally, and call centers can make a lot of money from them. The United States Government has taken crucial steps regarding protection against scammers, and the FCC has already shut down several illegal operations that account for millions of dollars.
Rememberthateveryconsumer has a responsibility, and that information is the best way to protect your identity and sensitive information. Find out more about how consumers can help government agencies in their fight against telephone scams, and do what you can.
Protect and educate your children. If they are young, use their telephone’s privacy settings to block any call that comes from a number outside of their registered contacts, and tell them to avoid giving any information to anyone calling your landline. When it comes to teenagers, make sure they understand the risks of talking to strangers or to people they met online. Pay close attention to their online interactions and keep an open communication, so they feel comfortable telling you when something seems off.
While scammers are using more and more sophisticated techniques, and can even mirror numbers from your contact list, there are more and more companies, such as Microsoft (through their digital crimes unit). The latter is engaging in the fight against them. You can find more information about their programs and actions and how you can contribute here.