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How to Limit Robo-Calls and Scams
Robo-calls to cell phones have gotten more prevalent and crafty. At one time, cell phone numbers were rarely called by automatic systems and spammers.
Now cell numbers are routinely sold on contact lists, making it not only common but increasing as a public issue every year.
Considering the fact that much of the population has a cell phone but no landline these days, it isn’t surprising.
Criminals adjust however they need in order to get to people. It’s necessary to have safeguards in place to limit robo-calls and scams to keep your family safer.
1.Trust no number. One trick of scammers is to spoof or mimic caller id numbers you are inclined to trust. This increases the likelihood that people will answer their phones.
By using location logic and public business information, they make phone numbers appear local or from a legitimate business – even your own banking institution.
Recently, a friend of mine has been receiving repeated warnings from her bank that this is happening to their customers.
Scammers are using spoofed numbers to trick people into believing the bank is calling them. They then ask personal and sensitive questions to gain control of bank accounts.
As her bank has been reminding people: Legitimate business, such as your bank, will never ask you information they already know. They will never make calls for you to confirm information or to complete some kind of authorization.
In addition to ignoring these calls, never give out any sensitive information over the phone. The only exception to this is when you initiated the call and know to whom you are speaking. (Such as calling your doctor’s office or confirming a prescription with your pharmacy.)
2. Only answer calls identified as people you know. Because you cannot trust even numbers that appear legitimate, it’s advisable to send all unknown calls to voicemail.
Only answer calls that your phone identifies as matching your contact list.
Remember, if the caller is a real person, with a legitimate reason for calling you, they will leave a full, easy-to-understand message. You can then return their call.
3. Resist answering the phone out of curiosity. Whenever you answer unidentified calls that turn out to be robo-calls or even scams, you reinforce that the number is viable.
This will only serve to increase the number of spam calls your mobile receives. Allowing your voicemail to pick up is hard to do, especially if you use your cell for business, but it’s smart.
4. Update your contact list. Adding legitimate caller contact details of people you know or do business with helps tremendously.
You will be less likely to miss an important call while more easily identifying calls you don’t need to answer. If your phone is not identifying the caller, they probably aren’t someone you know.
Take the time to add businesses you routinely use, such as your doctor, dentist, pharmacy, insurance, and so on. Update the information of family and friends.
5. Don’t call back numbers that leave cryptic or incomplete messages. This is the hallmark of robo-calls and scams.
Some of the most widely recognized are calls about “your vehicle’s warranty” or “your credit card accounts” but scammers are getting more crafty.
Calls may seem legitimate but if they are not a real person, with a full message, don’t call the number back. When in doubt, ignore the call.
6. Avoid calling numbers to request being “removed” from their calling list. The reason is basic: It won’t work. Legally, it is supposed to.
However, unless the business is legitimate – they will not follow your wishes.
Scammers are already working outside the law and calling them will only mark your phone number as viable for additional calls. It will have the reverse effect of what you seek to accomplish.
7. Use call blockers and spam identification software. Mobile carriers and manufacturers have been working diligently to address the issue of scam calls.
If you have not updated your phone (or allowed it to automatically update) recently, you may be missing some of the available automatic protection.
Known spam calls are being indexed and your phone may already mark some of them for you. Furthermore, your mobile may already block some robo-calls without you even knowing.
You want this protection. For even more robust protection, activate a robo-call blocking app. There are both free and paid versions of these.
Which app is right for you depends heavily on how big of an issue spam calls are for you and your family. There are multiple choices and I highly recommend reading lots of online reviews before choosing one.
The upshot of how they work is by matching calls from a list of known (reported) spam and scam numbers, effectively blocking or at least marking them. Most apps frequently update their lists to stay on top of the latest threats.
8. Do these things for your home phone as well. With the exception of installing a call blocking app, you can also implement most of these ideas with any landlines you own.
I recommend doing so, especially if you have younger household members who may answer the phone when it rings.