Courtesy of Travelers Insurance
What to Do About Spam Calls
If you feel tricked or annoyed by unwanted spam calls, robocalls and texts, you’re not alone. If persistent spam calls are trying your patience and you want them to stop, consider these options for effectively dealing with spam calls and scammers:
How to Stop or Block Unwanted Scam, Spam and Robocalls
Receiving multiple spam calls a day is not only annoying, it also potentially puts your financial information at risk. Many of these unsolicited calls are meant to confuse you and prompt you to give out personal information. While it’s hard to ignore a ringing phone, there are some actions you can take to help limit the number of spam calls and robocalls you receive.1
- Don’t Answer.
It’s best not to answer calls from unknown numbers. If no one answers, the scammer might not call again. They may be testing the number to see if it gets a response. If you do answer a call that turns out to be a spam call, hang up right away.
- Ignore Instructions.
When you get spam calls from strange numbers, do not follow any instructions to press a certain number given by a pre-recorded voice on the phone. This trick is often used to identify easy targets who are willing to do what the caller says.
- Do Not Speak.
Do not answer questions or make any statements before hanging up the phone. Never give out account numbers, names, passwords or any information to a caller you do not know.
- Beware of “Spoofing.”
Scammers can make any phone number show up on your caller ID, so don’t be fooled into answering the phone if the calling number looks familiar. This is called spoofing,2 and this tactic makes it more difficult for you to determine if a number that appears on your phone’s caller ID is spam or not. When in doubt, ignore the call.
- Call Back the Official Phone Number.
If the caller says they are from a company or government agency calling about your account, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement. That is the best way to verify the claim.
- Get Tools.
Ask your phone company about any tools they may have available to you to block unwanted calls. They may have an app you can use or may be able to instruct you on how to alter your phone’s settings to minimize unwanted spam calls. Asking the question will also let them know there is a need for ways to block robocalls.
- Protect with Passwords.
Make sure you set a password for your voicemail rather than getting immediate access when calling from your own phone number. A hacker spoofing your number could easily get into your voicemail if it’s not password protected. Always change default passwords for your voicemail box and choose a complex password of at least six digits, as that typically makes it more difficult for hackers to figure out.3 Like any other device you protect, change your voicemail password often.
- Get on the List.
Add your phone number to the Do Not Call List.4 This will stop legitimate telemarketers who check the list before dialing. Unfortunately, this will not stop scam calls.
How to Answer Spam Calls
Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Letting a call from an unknown caller go to voicemail might help you identify the reason for the call. If the caller leaves a message, you can then determine if it is legitimate or spam. If it is spam, be sure to delete the voicemail and block the phone number. Never return a call to a spammer or dial any phone number the spammer gives you.
If you do answer the call, tempting as it may be, do not answer any questions or reprimand a spam caller before hanging up. The caller could record your voice and use it later to prove you authorized a purchase or payment.5
When dealing with an unsolicited call that could be a scam, have the confidence to hang up. If it was a legitimate call, they will call back. Most companies and government agencies communicate important information to consumers in writing, as opposed to calling individuals regarding sensitive information.
Why Do You Keep Getting Calls from Random Numbers?
Calls from random numbers are generated by computers. Scammers use Voice-over IP (VoIP) technology to disguise the phone number they are calling from. This is called spoofing. They will often use random phone numbers with the same area code as your number. The number will seem familiar to you, so you are more likely to answer the call.
Because scammers are generating random numbers to disguise their calls, your number might pop up on someone else’s caller ID. If you get a call from someone you do not know who says you called them, you are probably both victims of scammers. Never return a call to a number you do not recognize.
There is some good news when it comes to helping to minimize robocalls. A new industry-standard caller ID authentication technology is helping to validate the authenticity of calls using VoIP technology. New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require all call providers to use this technology, to help ensure that a calling number matches the number that displays on your caller ID. If it doesn’t match, the call doesn’t go through to you.6
Get Protection Against Spammers & Prevent Fraud
Knowing how to handle unsolicited calls can help prevent you from becoming the victim of cyber crime. Be cautious and confident in your phone techniques, to help protect your personal information.
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Actually, I enjoy the opportunity to scam the scammers. One that I particularly enjoyed was a call from someone who represented himself as being from Publishers Clearing House. He started out with the usual questions such as: “is this Liam?”(seeking the proverbial yes answer). My first response was: “May I ask who is calling?” Of course, I already had a pretty good idea that it’s a scammer. He goes into some spiel that he is calling to inform me that I am the lucky recipient of a second-place prize from Publishers Clearing House in the amount of 3.7 million dollars.
Immediate red flag goes up. I’m familiar enough with Publishes Clearing House to know I’ve never seen them offer second or any lower place lump sum prizes. I think they only offer one first place prize for each sweepstake, and I’m not even sure if anyone actually wins those either. But I digress. Back to my story.
The guy on the phone—if I understood him correctly—said two couriers were on their way to my home to deliver my three million plus dollar check. Then he asked if I lived near a Walmart store. Hmmm, second red flag. I asked him, “why do you ask? He said, “while you are waiting for the couriers to arrive, you will need to go to Walmart to purchase a $485.50 gift card made out to whom—I don’t remember. I said I don’t understand what the gift card is about. He said not to worry, someone would deliver $485.00 cash to me later. (By now, I’m scratching my head in sheer wonderment). I then said the closest Walmart is more than a mile away. I don’t see well enough to drive anymore so I’ll have to contact the lady who drives me to see if she is available to drive me there on such short notice.”
He said, “Call her, and I’ll call you back in fifteen minutes. I didn’t call her because by now, I’m convinced I’m dealing with a scammer.
He called me back in fifteen minutes and I lied to him and said she was unavailable. He said. “keep trying and I’ll call you back tomorrow and 11:00 am.
I said, “I have a better idea. You just told me you have two couriers on the way to deliver me a three million plus dollar check, why don’t I wait until they arrive. There is still plenty of time before the bank closes, They can take me to the bank where I will deposit the check. If it clears, and doesn’t bounce from here to China, they can take me to Walmart to purchase the gift card. Afterall, since you just made me a multi-millionaire, I won’t miss the money for a $485.00 gift card that much. I must have been speaking to a sergeant to begin with, because by now another person who must have been a colonel, or perhaps a general of this scam came on the line and I could tell by the tone of his voice he was getting pissed. He said it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have the time for such nonsense!
We’ll call you back tomorrow. and he disconnected. So alas, I suppose I tossed 3.7 million dollars to the wind, because he didn’t call back the next morning, but it was fun while it lasted. :)
Just download a decent spam blocking app onto your cell phone and it will 90 percent of unwanted calls right off the bat. Then just gradually add the other 10 percent of spam calls to the blocked list and you’re all done. Quick and easy. Works great and eliminates the bother of automated spam calls.
If you still rely on a land line, then I hate to tell you but most of your calls are going to be spam calls. The phone companies have pretty much stopped investing in protecting that technology. They just want it to fade away, so they can concentrate on newer technology. Folks like Melinda below are stuck with the best workaround that is available for anyone still reliant on a land line: Manually screening every call.
Even quicker and easier: HANG UP THE PHONE! There, I fixed it for you.
Why would you even need to answer the phone or be disturbed by an unnecessary ring tone in the first place, if the app automatically screens out the spam calls for you? Unless you’re still using an old land line and paying a premium for the privilege of receiving nuisance spam calls all day long.
I moved to Alabama from commiefornia and I kept my cell number, mainly because I have so many places that have my number for contact. 90% of the scam calls are from my original area code…I get at least 6-8 calls per day from that area code and I got over 20 in one day. The not call registry is a joke. Sometimes I pick up and cuss out the callers, usually the caller hangs up but those who start talking often have an Asian accent. I know some chinese cuss words which I greet them with.
I have a really good caller I.D. which even tells me if a number is VOIP as well as no-name numbers. Many callers attempt to mimic some numbers that I call or even some that call me. If I don’t recognize a number it just rings. I also set my ringer for six rings. Many unsolicited calls end at 4 rings and hang up. My phone service is through my cable provider. All the answering stuff is from that.
If I don’t recognize a number on my landline, I let it go to message. If it’s someone I know I interrupt the message to answer. If not, I delete. It’s still a nuisance, but it doesn’t bother me to not answer a call. The problem is, nothing stops the spammers, they just use another number.
I don’t answer calls from any number not in my contact list. If it’s important the caller will leave a message. If no message I block the #
Most phones have a limited quantity of blocks.
I get a lot of calls from doctors’ offices and such, so I need to answer calls right away. If the call is from a number that I don’t recognize, I will answer by saying, “Who’s calling please” or “This is Regina.” The robo-calls are usually triggered by saying hi or hello. Spam calls from a live human I immediately say, “Take this number off your calling list.” And I’ll repeat it a few times, just to make sure they heard me. Supposedly, they are required to remove your number and not call again. !?!
Usually, when you’re expecting a service call from a company whose product you bought, and you have to have someone come out to install it, etc. etc. the service call wouldn’t have the store ID, but the installer’s own cell number. When I’m expecting a call like that, I have to answer all calls — unless it’s obviously a scam call — because I don’t want to miss the service call. It’s usually for a short time, like a couple of days.