The phone rings and you pick up the call, expecting to hear from a friend or business associate. Instead, it’s the fluttering phone connection of an overseas telemarketing call, … Read More
You’ve just sat down to dinner with your family or friends when the phone rings. Although you live a happy crime-free life, the message you receive is distressing.
The voice-recording on the other end of the line is threatening. The caller explains that they’re from a respected government agency and that you’re now at risk of jail time if you don’t take immediate action. You feel your stomach drop to your feet. Have you suddenly entered a life of crime?
You’ve received a robocall and, worse, you are not alone. Millions of people receive these sorts of calls daily. Robocalls are not going away any time soon because they work. These sorts of calls are increasing in number and becoming more and more sophisticated, as they learn to rely on A.I. technology.
They can cost you peace of mind, money, and even risk complete financial ruin if your identity gets stolen. Join us as we investigate the facts, risks, and how to protect yourself in our first ever in-depth guide to robocalls!
A.I. or Artificial Intelligence is one of the hottest topics of 2019, which means that robocalls were ahead of their time! A robocall is essentially a phone call that is pre-recorded and makes use of an automated process to auto-dial a phone call, i.e., makes “robot calls”. There is a strong correlation between telemarketing calls, political advertising, and public service and emergency announcements.
Telemarketers or often scammers use an automated system to call specific area codes with a message involving a ruse designed to separate the receiver from their money or sensitive information. Once someone answers the phone, a generic or targeted recording begins, requesting that the listener enter bank account, credit, or debit card numbers, along with PIN codes. In many cases, a live person is available to assist in collecting all this data which will then turn it over to others who cash in.
– Robert Siciliano, CEO of Safr.Me
However, scammers use robocalls to send personalized scam messages, which seek to simulate legitimate phone calls and trick the recipient into providing money, and banking or credit card information.
For this reason, they’re more than a nuisance alone. Each robocall you believe may cost you where it hurts most – your wallet and pride, from having been conned.
Despite the continued threat posed by robocalls, the good news is that A.I. or machine learning may be able to find a way out of the abyss. Advanced machine learning is currently figuring out how to use real-time analytics to identify spoofed calls. The use of A.I. data, in combination with data from phone networks, may be able to target and combat the fluid identities and numbers used by robocallers.
Although this scam isn’t new, it is so popular that people on social media even talk about it. When it happens, you receive a call from someone pretending to be from the IRS. They will “inform” you of a bogus tax bill and use fake titles and other official-sounding jargon, hoping you will fall for their trick.
They want money and your private information. Even for those educated about this scam, the “official” sounding message can be easy to believe.
Health Insurance Scam
This scam is particularly dangerous for anyone who is ill, elderly or has a compromised immune system. Once someone steals your health insurance information, they can use your health insurance benefits illegally. This can result in a denial of service, when you need it most, or allow the scammer to get a hold of your information and destroy your identity with fraudulent credit cards, etc.
Health insurance robocallers say they need to verify insurance information or may suggest a health plan or discount plan. Either way, your info will be stolen, or you will sign up for a service you don’t need.
If you have a website, small business, or brand, a robocaller will claim that your website, social media, or Google Maps location, etc. are set to vanish. The robocaller may also declare that your web service will be terminated unless you pay for their SEO service.
Foreign Consulate Scam
You may receive a robocall in a foreign language, from the country you emigrated from. They will say that the consulate received a package for you or that you are at risk of being investigated by your country of origin. They will ask you for information such as your bank or credit card to transfer money or the items to you.
Does this scam work?
According to the NPR, yes!
Neighbor or Call Spoofing
A spoofed call is one where the caller ID shows a different telephone number than the person calling you. Scammers use it, salespeople and collection agencies, to make it appear that they’re calling from your area code.
They know that you’re more likely to answer a local number. The problem with this is that even if you block the call, you’re only blocking the spoofed number.
If you or your loved ones receive frequent robocalls, you’re probably ready for them to stop. Wondering just how big of a problem robocalling is? We have the most recent stats, and you might never want to pick up your phone again!
A Definitive Ranking of U.S. States Complaints About Robocalls
In April 2019, there were 3.5 billion telemarketing and robocalls made to mobile phones in the United States, with 85% of these calls occurring on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
While California has the most reported online catfish, compared to other states, Texas has the most robocalls in the nation. As of April 2019, Texas received over 556 million calls. Not to be outdone, California still made second place with over 499 million calls!
Source: Robocall Index
Wondering how U.S. cities line up as robocall recipients?
If you live in Atlanta, Georgia or know someone who does, they may not be thrilled to be the winning city for the most automated calls received. Atlanta, Georgia received an estimated 190 million+ calls in April of 2019. In second place in Dallas, Texas, with New York, New York, and Chicago, Illinois coming third and fourth respectively.
One increasing problem with robocall scams is the use of spoofed phone numbers. A spoofed telephone number also called caller ID spoofing is when a telephone network displays a phone number that is not accurate and not who placed the call.
So, even if you block the phone number displayed, you’re blocking a fake display number and not the original number calling you. To help protect against number or neighbor spoofing, the FCC is urging the phone industry to adopt a caller I.D. authentication system.
While it is possible to reduce or stop unwanted robocalls, it is essential to follow each of these steps. First, visit the FTC’s National “Do Not Call Registry”.
The “Do Not Call Registry” will allow you to register your phone number, verify registration, and even submit a complaint on their website. Although this will lead to a reduction in calls, scammers and out of the country spammers will not be deterred by your registry on the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) list.
Next, if you want to avoid picking up your phone and wasting time with a robocaller, make use of your phone’s caller I.D. Cell and mobile telephones have caller I.D. features already included. If you are concerned about calls to your home phone, you will need to purchase a phone which incorporates caller I.D. or buy a separate caller I.D. unit.
By viewing the number calling you, you will have the ability to only answer the phone from numbers that you recognize. To help facilitate this, place the phone numbers for businesses and people you regularly talk to into your cell or mobile phone’s contact list. That way, trusted names would appear when they call you.
If harassing or fraudulent calls come through a landline or recurring phone numbers, contact the phone company for assistance and ask them to block the number on your behalf. One tool is to search for suspected robocall or scam calls at Social Catfish’s reverse phone lookup.
This will also let you know who the number is registered to and if the caller is only using a spoofed number. If you have a new phone number which receives an excessive amount of robocalls, consider talking to the phone company and changing numbers. However, this doesn’t guarantee the number will be immune from robocalls since it is a problem nationwide.
How to Determine If a Number Is a Robocaller
If you suspect a fraudulent robocall tried to scam you out of money, take screenshots or images of the phone number and file a complaint with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). If you shared credit, banking, or financial information (or any other private information including driver’s license, SSN, etc.) while on the robocall, immediately contact your bank and credit companies, also, check all banking statements, credit card statements, credit reports, and change your email passwords.
Also, use Social Catfish’s reverse phone lookup to check who registered that number or if it’s a under a VoIP phone line:
What Is the FCC Doing to Stop Robocalls?
Although progress is slow, the FCC is doing their part to stop unwanted robocalls and text messages by:
However, those steps alone are not stopping millions of people from being scammed daily, which is why it’s imperative to master your phone settings to limit these calls.
Although it is annoying to receive robocalls when you’re driving or out in the world, blocking numbers on your cell phone is fast and easy. The method to use depends on what type of cell phone you have. You can also download apps and software from Google Play or the Apple Store, to assist in blocking unwanted calls.
How to Block Robocalls on an iPhone
Apple makes it easy to block robocalls calls from your iPhone. Although your iPhone will not recognize all spam callers in advance (unless you download additional software from the App Store), once you receive an unwanted call, future calls from that number can be easily blocked. Another bonus iPhone feature is for unknown text messages is that it labels particular numbers as potential “spam”.
How to Block Robocalls on an Android Phone
When it comes to blocking robocalls, Android phones use a similar process to Apple’s iPhone. The settings on your Android phone are user-friendly and make it quick and easy to block unwanted calls. If you want the most benefit out of Android’s blocking features, use them consistently, or in conjunction with software downloaded from Google Play.
How to Stop Robocalls on a Landline
Are you tired of your meals being interrupted by robocalls? Maybe your children answer the phone, and you don’t like the idea of receiving so many unwanted calls. If you’re tired of picking up your phone and hearing a robocall, follow these steps!
While your mobile phone’s settings may help you avoid (some) unwanted calls, to truly protect yourself from robocallers, it is essential to use a new app. Robocall blocking apps can be both free or paid, widely used, and removed at any time you’re unhappy with them.
People opt for robocall blocking apps to avoid the risk of being scammed and stop wasting hours of their life answering robocalls! By using our tips along with a robocall blocking app, your voicemail will no longer be packed with obnoxious recordings! Get back to the callers you want to hear from – family, friends, and business.
RoboKiller not only works as an app to stop unwanted calls from telemarketers and robocallers but will also identify and block unfamiliar incoming callers automatically.
This can help you cut down on spam and scam calls. These are also a feature on RoboKiller that allows you to “prank” robocallers and listen to how the RoboKiller bot responded!
Nomorobo is a robocall blocking app with an excellent reputation, it relies on its database of identified spam numbers, with more added daily. It can also discriminate between wanted and unwanted robocalls (so you don’t miss out on a call from your children’s school or your dentist, for example). The app will not access your call logs or contacts for privacy reasons.
If user reviews and a 4.6 rating in the Apple Store and Google Play mean something (spoiler alert, they do!), then Truecaller has earned its spot near the top of the rank. Truecaller is a caller ID and block spam app, available in both free and paid versions for iOS and Android. To date, it has been installed over a million times and allows you to upload your contact list to determine safe callers.
While some individuals seem to receive robocalls rarely, others receive multiple calls daily. Even if you’re lucky enough to not be on the spammer’s frequent call list, everyone with a landline or cell phone will receive a scam or robocall eventually. If and when it happens to you, know that you are not alone and take action.
First, never share private or financial information over the phone. If someone sounds legitimate, hang up and call back the correct number for that company or organization, after verifying it through Google or in your phone book.
Next, make it part of your safety practice to use online reverse phone lookup for any suspicious calls. These even include one ring calls, which might be scammers or robocallers hoping you call them back. Also, if you receive a legit voicemail message or a number appears local, it still might still be a scam.
At Social Catfish you can search name, number, reverse image lookup, and much more. Don’t guess or hope for the best know who is calling you and don’t let a robocall make a sucker out of you and your wallet!