Imagine you’re waiting for a call back from your doctor, your car mechanic, or perhaps your child's school. Your phone rings with a number in your local area code, so you pick it up expecting to talk to someone you know. Instead, it’s simply a robot asking you about your car’s extended warranty. Naturally, you hang up in frustration.
You then answer the next call coming from a familiar area code. This is still not the person you were hoping to talk to, but at least it sounds different than the earlier call. This time the voice isn’t robotic, and the caller claims they’ve spoken to you before about your bank account. You start to engage in conversation, only to realize that this, too, is a robotic, recorded message.
By the time you finally get the callback you were waiting for, you’ve gotten so fed up with the robocalls that you don’t pick up the unfamiliar number. You just became part of the 77% of Americans who have chosen not to answer what turned out to be an important call – all for fear that it was just another scam.
You just endured a scam tactic known as Caller ID Spoofing. It uses automated dialing software to choose any name or number for the caller ID, making a robocall appear more realistic. Scammers can pinpoint your location and have the caller ID reflect your area code, rather than a 1-800 number or a scam notification. The messages you hear on a scam call have also gotten more advanced as scammers improve their audio technology to make the voice sound less robotic.
Thanks to these misleading tactics, Americans are more at risk than ever of becoming a victim of a scam that jeopardizes their personal finances and identities. Scammers may pose as a bank, car dealership, or customer support worker in a bid to retrieve sensitive information, including passwords, social security numbers, credit card information, and more.
Don’t let yourself be the next scam victim. If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of a call, just hang up without speaking or pressing any buttons. Then, reach out through a trusted number to the organization you believe may be contacting you. By calling the organization directly, you eliminate the risk of being scammed through robocalls.
To prevent robocalls, the Federal Trade Commission recommends reporting unwanted spam calls to the National Do Not Call Registry, to initiate the identification of the illegal callers based on data analysis and call patterns. Your cell phone provider may also offer protection to help identify and block robocalls found in third-party apps.
And the best thing you can do: Think twice before answering the phone.