Courtesy of Travelers Insurance

What to Do About Spam Calls

If you feel tricked or annoyed by unwanted spam calls, robocalls and texts, you’re not alone. If persistent spam calls are trying your patience and you want them to stop, consider these options for effectively dealing with spam calls and scammers:

How to Stop or Block Unwanted Scam, Spam and Robocalls

Receiving multiple spam calls a day is not only annoying, it also potentially puts your financial information at risk. Many of these unsolicited calls are meant to confuse you and prompt you to give out personal information. While it’s hard to ignore a ringing phone, there are some actions you can take to help limit the number of spam calls and robocalls you receive.[1]

  • Don’t Answer.

It’s best not to answer calls from unknown numbers. If no one answers, the scammer might not call again. They may be testing the number to see if it gets a response. If you do answer a call that turns out to be a spam call, hang up right away.

  • Ignore Instructions.

When you get spam calls from strange numbers, do not follow any instructions to press a certain number given by a pre-recorded voice on the phone. This trick is often used to identify easy targets who are willing to do what the caller says.

  • Do Not Speak.

Do not answer questions or make any statements before hanging up the phone. Never give out account numbers, names, passwords, or any information to a caller you do not know.

  • Beware of “Spoofing.”

Scammers can make any phone number show up on your caller ID, so don’t be fooled into answering the phone if the calling number looks familiar. This is called spoofing,[2] and this tactic makes it more difficult for you to determine if a number that appears on your phone’s caller ID is spam or not. When in doubt, ignore the call.

  • Call Back the Official Phone Number.

If the caller says they are from a company or government agency calling about your account, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement. That is the best way to verify the claim.

  • Get Tools.

Ask your phone company about any tools they may have available to you to block unwanted calls. They may have an app you can use or may be able to instruct you on how to alter your phone’s settings to minimize unwanted spam calls. Asking the question will also let them know there is a need for ways to block robocalls.

  • Protect with Passwords.

Make sure you set a password for your voicemail rather than getting immediate access when calling from your own phone number. A hacker spoofing your number could easily get into your voicemail if it’s not password protected. Always change default passwords for your voicemail box and choose a complex password of at least six digits, as that typically makes it more difficult for hackers to figure out.[3] Like any other device you protect, change your voicemail password often.

  • Get on the List.

Add your phone number to the Do Not Call List.[4] This will stop legitimate telemarketers who check the list before dialing. Unfortunately, this will not stop scam calls.

How to Answer Spam Calls

Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Letting a call from an unknown caller go to voicemail might help you identify the reason for the call. If the caller leaves a message, you can then determine if it is legitimate or spam. If it is spam, be sure to delete the voicemail and block the phone number. Never return a call to a spammer or dial any phone number the spammer gives you.

If you do answer the call, tempting as it may be, do not answer any questions or reprimand a spam caller before hanging up. The caller could record your voice and use it later to prove you authorized a purchase or payment.[5]

When dealing with an unsolicited call that could be a scam, have the confidence to hang up. If it was a legitimate call, they will call back. Most companies and government agencies communicate important information to consumers in writing, as opposed to calling individuals regarding sensitive information.

Why Do You Keep Getting Calls from Random Numbers?

Calls from random numbers are generated by computers. Scammers use Voice-over IP (VoIP) technology to disguise the phone number they are calling from. This is called spoofing. They will often use random phone numbers with the same area code as your number. The number will seem familiar to you, so you are more likely to answer the call.

Because scammers are generating random numbers to disguise their calls, your number might pop up on someone else’s caller ID. If you get a call from someone you do not know who says you called them, you are probably both victims of scammers. Never return a call to a number you do not recognize.

There is some good news when it comes to helping to minimize robocalls. A new industry-standard caller ID authentication technology is helping to validate the authenticity of calls using VoIP technology. New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require all call providers to use this technology, to help ensure that a calling number matches the number that displays on your caller ID. If it doesn’t match, the call doesn’t go through to you.[6]

Get Protection Against Spammers & Prevent Fraud

Knowing how to handle unsolicited calls can help prevent you from becoming the victim of cyber crime. Be cautious and confident in your phone techniques, to help protect your personal information.

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