Is this the first or last step in privacy abuse?

Once upon a time, the ring of the telephone signaled a call from a loved one or dear friend. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Many phone calls are now met with anxiety and even dread instead of anticipation and joy. For a lot of folks, fraud prevention is a huge concern when taking a call nowadays. Telemarketers and their automated robocall systems are the main perpetraitors.

These money-hungry hustlers come from “legitimate” businesses and fraud set-ups.

Every major city in the world has its fraud boiler rooms, many favoring the telephone as their mass market access point. Rows and rows of cubicle desks with workers packed in like battery hens laying eggs. They really are a pestilence! You will never meet a person who says, “Today I received a robocall that made my day.” This industry thrives off of irritating or conning people and it is always raising its ugly little game. In one month, from March to April 2018, robocalls skyrocketed by almost one billion calls in the USA. According to YouMail, a robocall blocking service, the USA saw 3.4 billion robocalls in April 2018 alone. That’s 10 robocalls per person per month. These calls affect anyone at any time. The impact of these intrusions can range from ruining precious time with family to impeding on a medic’s ability to respond to real emergencies.

Surgeon Dr. Gary Pess of New Jersey fell victim to a robocall call scheme that mimics area codes. He had been receiving so many calls that he stopped answering ones he suspected were fake. In this attempt at fraud prevention, he accidentally ignored a medical emergency that required his attention. Though he eventually discovered its authenticity, “It delayed the treatment of a patient,” he said.

This robocall pandemic is out of control and needs to stop.

With the steady rise of these bothersome calls, effective fraud protection is ever more important. Here are 8 things you need to know about robocall and telemarketing fraud to stay informed and protected.

  1. Robocalls rob people of a lot of money.

Robocallers can pose as medical debt collectors, student loan officers, banking agents, credit card companies and embassy officials to name a few. Over the past few months, several Chinese immigrants in New York were victims of a scam that robbed them of 2.5 million dollars. The scheme involved a crook caller pretending to be from the Chinese Consulate. This particular scam targeted a specific ethnic group with strong motives, but the tactics of these scammers are endless when it comes to stealing money.

Michael Aaron Jones, a known telemarketing scammer, lived a life of luxury. His frauds afforded him a $25,000 a month in rent, multiple Mercedes Benz’ and even a personal chef. Though he was eventually sued for 2.5 million dollars by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), his type of lifestyle is a motivator for phone con artists. Knowing that crooks can accumulate this much wealth proves how successful they are in stealing from people. You have to use lots of caution when dealing with anyone you don’t know, especially on the phone.

  1. List your number on a national ‘Do Not Call’ registry.

In the US, you can list your number on the national Do Not Call registry. Most true businesses will respect the registry, but scammers won’t. This is helpful because it helps you more easily identify fraud. So if you continue receiving robocalls despite being listed on the registry it’s more likely to be a fraudster that you can ignore. Do note that debt collectors are exempt from observing the registry.

  1. Do not answer unknown numbers.

Not answering unknown numbers is probably the most powerful way to protect yourself and fight this growing issue. While this tactic may not be possible for some individuals whose jobs depend on them to be on call, the majority of citizens can follow this protocol. Robocalls cannot succeed in scamming you if you do not pick up. Alex Quilici of YouMail said, “If no one ever picked up the phone when it rang, robocalls would stop…If I’m going to scam you to buy a fake cruise or install fake virus software, I need you to answer the phone so that I can pitch you.”

  1. Block the robocall.

There are blocking services for both landlines and cellphones. For cell phones, there are two ways to block robocalls. One way is by manually blocking each robocall number that comes through so that they cannot call you in the future. You can do this by going into your settings and adding the number to your blocked numbers list. Another way is by downloading one of the popular robocall blocking apps. YouMail, RoboKiller, Mr. Number, Nomorobo and Hiya are among a growing list of popular robocall blocking apps that users can try.

  1. Report robocalls and texts.

In the US, you can forward fake texts and robocall numbers to the FTC for free. Send the info to 7726 (or “SPAM”). If you are outside of the US, check to see if your country offers a similar service.

  1. File a complaint.

Similar to reporting robocalls and texts, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and FTC. These complaints may result in fines, citations, and lawsuits to fraudsters.

  1. Protect your information.

Protecting your personal information can help protect you from robocalls. Be careful with where you share your personal data. Fraudsters can get your information from online forms, surveys, quizzes, and games. Treat your phone number like sensitive information to protect it from getting into the wrong hands.

  1. Give them a taste of their own medicine.

If you end up answering the call and identify the caller as a telemarketer, the Jolly Roger Telephone Company has an alternate solution for you. Their motto is “Our robots talk to telemarketers so humans don’t have to.” It works by allowing a user to transfer the call to a cast of pre-recorded characters that take over the call. For example, Crazy Mazy is listed as “a nice old lady with a couple of screws loose” whose tangents will keep telemarketers occupied for quite some time.

Consider the tips above as your robocall/telemarketing fraud prevention toolkit. Following this advice will help you to stay protected and safe. If everyone followed this advice we could eventually see an end to this mass robocall fraud. Perhaps killing this industry might even encourage these scammers to go out, get a real job, and earn an honest living.




Easy-to-read true stories about real fraud crimes are here:

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