Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Today, I received a robocall, that literally sounded like a robot. The robo-lady alerted me that my social security number was going to be legally blocked. In order to avoid this I would be required to call a 469 (Texas) area code. Needless to say, I did not call back.
Telephone fraud has become a billion dollar industry, and is still growing. Just as the technology these thieves use has become more sophisticated, so have their schemes to get their hands on your money.
Especially during times when we are dealing with the coronavirus, tax refunds, job closures, sold out toilet paper, promises of checks from the government for families in need.
Chances are you probably receive one or more of these robocalls every day. Some of them are just recorded sales messages, but others have crooks on the other end of the line, just waiting for you to answer. Don’t be fooled by these callers! Learn to protect yourself and your money.
Follow these strategies to avoid being a victim of robocall scams:
1. Understand the growth of telemarketing fraud. It’s important to understand that anyone can become a target or a victim of these calls.
Robocalls have made telemarketing fraud skyrocket because live agents aren’t needed. These cheap, fast, and easy calls can still cost you money, so you have to be careful. Robocalls need to be handled cautiously.
Your number may be unlisted, and you may have signed up for a do-not-call list. However, you can still get robocalls.
These systems can automatically generate thousands of random phone numbers, and your number can be on the list. In addition, scammers can use online and other records to find your number.
They can make calls to your landline or your cell phone, so no number is safe.
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2. Avoid pressing numbers. If you pick up the phone and hear a robocall telemarketing message, then don’t press any buttons on your phone.
By pressing a phone button, you’re letting their computer systems know that you’re home. They’ll use this information to keep calling you at this time and try to get your private data.
You also don’t want to select the option of talking to a live agent. Again, they’ll continue calling you and harassing you.
Your safest option is to just hang up the phone.
3. Study the common scams and protect yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is your tool to protect your finances.
Robocall scams often fall into common trends and categories. You can research these trends and learn to avoid them. For example, some robocalls claim you owe money to the IRS. This is a common scam that the IRS has confirmed is growing in popularity.
The FTC has made robocalls illegal unless you gave written consent to receive them. Study your rights and protect yourself.
4. Understand spoofing. Spoofing refers to companies being able to fake the phone numbers you see on caller ID. Although it can help you avoid some calls, caller ID isn’t enough to protect you.
5. Consider call blocking on your landline. If you’re being harassed by ongoing robocalls from the same number, then you may want to try this idea.
Call blocking is available from your phone company, but it may come with fees.
You can block the annoying robocalls by blocking that particular number. However, many robocall scammers use multiple numbers, so blocking one usually isn’t enough.
6. Consider filing a complaint with the FTC. The FTC pursues companies that make robocalls. It can sue them, fine them, and stop them from calling you and other consumers.
The FTC has forms online or that can be printed out and filled out. If you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry, then you can fill out different forms to complain.
7. Use your cell phone’s blocking features. Your cell phone may have special features that let you block calls. You can also look for apps that block robocalls. In addition, there are online services that offer call blocking as well.
Many of these apps and services charge a fee. Be sure you know the cost before downloading the app or signing up for a service.
Robocall scams are a common tactic that can cost you money. However, you don’t have to be a victim. Learn to protect yourself and stay safe.