How often does your cell phone ring and you see a number you don’t recognize and you just ignore it?
You probably think if it’s an important call they will leave a message. Chances are that strange phone number that keeps calling you is a robocall scam.
Recently, a Massachusetts woman, who declined to be named, fell victim to a robocall scam that purported to be from Chinese government officials.
The way it worked was the robocall explained to the woman she was a victim of identity theft and that someone was using her identity in China.
The robocall gave the woman a phone number for her to call back to confirm if it was her identity that had indeed been used in China.
The problem was, once the woman called the number and provided her personal information, the scenario quickly changed from one where the people on the phone were trying to help her, to them now making demands that she pay them.
In other words, the story changed from your identity has been stolen to you have an international arrest warrant and you must pay us now.
Sadly, the Massachusetts woman sent $95,000 to a bank in Hong Kong to “take care of her international arrest warrant.”
Unfortunately, after making the payment the woman came to realize that it was all a scam that started with a robocall convincing her to call another number.
A company called First Orion that provides their customers caller ID and call blocking technology, estimates that in 2019, nearly half of all cell phone calls will come from scammers.
In addition, according to the Federal Communications Commission, Americans receive 4 billion unwanted automated calls each month or roughly 1,543 phone calls per a second.
It’s estimated that in 2018 alone, Americans were duped out of $9.5 billion by these robocall scams.
Many of the criminals behind these activities target elderly people, students, small business owners and immigrants.
If you are like most cell phone users you probably receive at least one of these robocalls each day and you may be wondering how to stop them.
With that in mind, here are a few tricks to help stop or at least minimize the number of unwanted phone calls you receive on your cell phone.
Manually block it.
Oftentimes, scammers will spoof the phone number calling you.
What I mean is they will make it appear from a certain location or they sometimes make it look very similar to your actual number except for a few digits.
If you notice that you are regularly getting robo calls from the same phone number you can simply block that specific number on your smartphone.
All cell phones allow you to do this or you can contact your cell phone provider to assist you.
There’s an app for that.
Every major cell service provider has an app or service that will identify and block likely scam callers.
Now, most of the cell phone carriers will charge a monthly fee of a few dollars to provide this service, but it’s money well spent.
Every app will work differently, however, they basically run phone calls through their database of scam numbers and block calls on their list.
Another option is to use a third-party app such as RoboKiller or Hiya, which offer free one month trials to see if you like the service before spending any money.
Another nice thing about these apps is that you can check the call log history to see which phone numbers they are blocking so you know whether or not the app is working the way you want it to.
Stop all suspicious calls.
I have family members who receive three or four of these types of robocalls each day.
If you are getting bombarded like they are by these calls, there is a surefire way to stop them all together.
You can set up your cell phone to only receive calls from people who are on your contact list.
The good thing is, if you receive a legitimate call from say, your doctor’s office, the phone call will go to your voicemail so the caller will be able to leave you a message.
Lastly, one of the best lines of defense when it comes to robocalls and scams is to obviously not answer an unknown caller.
If the unknown call is legitimate, such as from your bank, doctor, or employer, chances are they will leave you a message and you can simply call them back, without taking the risk of answering a phone call from your long lost uncle in Nigeria.