Wouldn’t it be great if every time your phone rang, you knew it was someone you liked and would enjoy talking to. Unfortunately for many of us, a ringing cell phone could mean anything from a minor annoyance to a full blown scam. A lot of us can’t get through the day without looking down at spam phone numbers at least once. Spam callers ruin what could otherwise have been a pleasant day.
Now, instead of playing fetch with your dog Fido, you’re fending off sales people desperate for your information. Or worse, it’s a robocall from someone who didn’t even have to decency to put a live human on the phone. It doesn’t seem like these phone calls are going away. Spammers tend to get more creative as technology moves forward. You do have options. You can perform a phone number search, report scammers, or place yourself on a do-not-call registry. Let’s delve deeper into dealing with spam phone calls.
Spam Phone Numbers And Spoofing
Have you ever seen a number that looked eerily close to yours when your mobile phone rang? Where the area code and the first three digits are the same as yours? Kind of creepy isn’t it? You may have gotten a spoof call. The idea is that you’re more likely to take an incoming call from a number that looks familiar to you. Scammers will disguise their numbers this way.
Is Spoof Calling illegal?
Yes. The FCC requires telemarketers to:
- Transmit or display its telephone number on behalf of who the call is being made for, and, if possible, the name of the company.
- Display a telephone number you can call during regular business hours to ask to no longer be called. This rule applies even to companies that already have an established business relationship with you.
There is a big difference between a sales call and a scam. Sales, or telemarketing calls, while they can be annoying, are different than someone who is trying to steal from you. While the quality of the goods or service you receive can be questionable, it doesn’t cross the threshold of a scam until they do something illegal. Once the call goes from sale to scam, you have every right to report it.
Scam Call Indicators
There are many common phrases which scam callers use, such as the ones listed below:
“You’ve been selected for an exclusive offer.”
“We’d like to extend your car warranty.”
“You’ve just won all these prizes.”
“You’ve won money in a foreign lottery.”
“You have to make up your mind right away.”
“We’ll only put shipping and handling on your credit card.”
Handling A Possible Scam Call
One of the best ways to avoid scam calls is to simply screen your calls. Don’t pick up if you’re suspicious of something. Most callers will leave a voicemail if they have legitimate business with you. You can simply call them back if you need to. But if you do happen to find yourself on the phone will a possible scammer, there are better ways to handle it.
- Never give out sensitive, personal information. Some scammers will trick you by saying your SSN or other info needs to be verified.
- Screen unknown numbers.
- Don’t fall for the “free gift.”
- Get written information before you buy something.
- Research a charity before giving away any money. This is a common trick.
- Never pay for shipping on a “free” prize.
- Foreign Lotteries don’t call people.
- Don’t answer too many questions. Scammers will try to lure information out of you.
What About Robocalls?
You may (if you haven’t already) come in contact with an illegal robocaller. The best thing to do is just to hang up the phone. Don’t press any keys for the do not call list. Many times, this will lead to even more robocalls.
Can’t I Just Block The Number?
Can’t I just call my provider and have them block unwanted calls? This probably won’t work. Unfortunately, spam phone numbers change all the time. Call blocking isn’t necessarily effective because of this fact.
What Can I Do To Prevent Scam Calls?
Don’t worry. You have options when it comes to dealing with scam calls. Here’s what you can do.
Trace The Number
You can find out exactly who the number belongs to with a suspicious number search. Just enter any spam phone numbers that happen to call you and find out exactly who the number belongs to. This takes the mystery out of the whole ordeal.
Join The National Do Not Call Registry
You can put your number on a registry that should keep you off the lists of most telemarketers. This won’t stop calls completely but it should prevent most from reaching you.
File A Complaint With The FTC
The Federal Trade Commission helps consumers avoid scams, fraud, and abuse. Easily report any spam phone numbers or scam calls with their easy to use FTC Complaint Assistant.
It doesn’t seem like scam calling is going away anytime soon. Spam phone numbers will continue to roll across caller IDs across the country. You needn’t worry if you handle the situation right. The most important thing is to never give out your personal information unless you really have to. Don’t be taken up by prize offers and other tricks to entice you. Trace the number to find out who it belongs to, and file a complaint with the FTC is scam calls become a problem.