If you are like virtually every other person who owns a phone line, land or cell, you receive robocalls. The technologies used to formulate robocalls are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can even “make calls” from a town near your current location. This is particularly prominent when you are traveling and using your cell phone map features and internet search features. Robocalls are scams and they are on the increase, with a rise of incidence of 325% since 2017. The scams are a worldwide problem, although they are implemented differently in different countries. Regardless of the type of robocalls you receive, these scammers have two primary goals in mind:
To gain access to your personal data and
To get money from you.
USA Today ran an excellent article in May 2019 that includes additional detail about the following three points:
- Answering the phone triggers more calls. Although we’ve been told that answering calls and requesting to be removed from the call list is a good action to take, if the call is a robocall and you answer it, then you’ll be rewarded with more calls because the hackers on the other end of the line now have confirmation that there is a live person at your number.
- Robocallers adapt, spoof numbers, and mimic voices. New technology is making it possible for robocalls to play a voice that sounds familiar to you, based on mined data and recordings of actual voices of your friends and family members. Beware of a familiar voice that is calling from a strange number.
- Most robocalls are perfectly legal. The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are doing their best to intervene and prevent scammers from operating, but it’s a fast-moving, quick-changing game, making it difficult to completely eliminate this type of cybercrime and complicated by the fact that cybercriminals are expert at finding loopholes in the law, thus making their calls legal.
What can you do to
protect yourself from the robocall criminals and harassment?
Thankfully, there are several steps that you can take to protect yourself from robocallers. Consider implementing these steps:
- Register for the FCC’s “Do Not Call Registry” by visiting the https://www.donotcall.gov/ website or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone that you want to register.
- Do NOT answer calls from unknown numbers and let the call go to voice mail, where the caller is likely to leave a message if the call is legitimate.
- Do NOT EVER share personal details over the phone with an unknown caller, especially your social security number or credit card information.
- Download the Robokiller app to stop robocalls before you even have time to consider answering that unknown number. The app is continuously updating a block list of known robocall numbers and will block these numbers if they are recognized as incoming calls to you phone.
- Use your security program’s features for mobile security.
Although it is very difficult to block 100% of unwanted robocalls and other telemarketing calls, it is possible to diminish the impact that they have on your day-to-day life if you take action.
If you are scammed, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission
at https://www.ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.