Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams — and the number is growing exponentially. Scammers are quickly adapting to more discreet and harder-to-stop methods. These quick changes are making it difficult for telecommunications companies and government agencies to address the issue.
This is why it is our personal responsibility to remain alert and learn to identify scams and spam calls. It is our duty to share that knowledge with our friends and family to help reduce the number of victims that get cheated out of money by these terrible scams.
How to Know If Your Call or Voicemail Was a Scam
If you receive a call or voicemail that is robotic, you can be 99% sure that it is a scam. There are a handful of scammers out there that are more subtle in their approach. They will sound normal, make small talk, and ask you about your family. In this case, you need to listen to the context of the call to distinguish if something is indeed a scam.
What Types of Scams Are Out There
In 2019, we see that the most common scams are about healthcare coverage, fake lottery winners, and investment opportunities. In addition, we find that the Southern California region is currently being hit with a new scam that specifically asks people about the status of their Social Security number. Scammers are becoming ruthless and will say anything to cheat you out of your money.
The best way to know if you are being targeted by a scam is if you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy. If you say “no thanks” and they continue to pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
3 Ways to Reduce Scammers and Spam Calls
1. Join the National Do Not Call List
You can do this by visiting www.DoNotCall.gov or call 888.382.1222. This organization will reduce the total number of unsolicited calls you get because it is against the law to call someone on the Do Not Call List.
2. Block the Caller
If you get calls that seem phishy, you can block the phone number from calling you again.
- Open the Phone app (look for the green phone)
- Tap the Recents tab at the bottom
- Click the ‘i’ symbol next to the unwanted number
- Scroll down and tap Block this Caller
- Open the Phone app (look for the blue phone)
- Tap the three-dot icon (top-right corner).
- Select “Call Settings”
- Select “Reject Calls”
- Tap the “+” button and add the numbers you want to block
3. Report the Phone Number
Lastly, be sure to report the number that called you to www.donotcall.gov. By reporting this number, you help the authorities shut down that specific phone number from being able to make future scam calls.
What to Do If You Were Scammed Out of Money
If you did fall victim to a scam, you can pursue a claim of your lost money or property at the state controller’s office – each state has a website. Here is the website for California: www.claimit.ca.gov.
If you have also been targeted by scams, we would like to hear from you in the comments.