Have you been receiving phone calls from numbers that are very close to your own (perhaps one or two numbers off, or even from your own phone number)? The past few months it seems like there has been an increase in scammers spoofing phone numbers to try to get your information. Scammers tend to hope that you'll pick up a phone call that has a number close to yours (or your own number), perhaps because you're curious as to why that number is showing up. Many times these robocalls will have a message where they pretend to be a certain company or have a generic message where they don't reference you directly and asks you for identifying information, such as your name or the last 4 digits of your social security number.
Keep in mind that if a company really needs to get a hold of you, they won't typically use a robocall system. They also won't have a generic message where the account they're calling about isn't personally identified. Identifying phone calls from scammers may seem fairly obvious to some, but they do tend to work - otherwise these types of phone calls would have stopped years ago.
What are some ways you can combat these types of phone calls?
- First off, don't pick up. Many of these are set up to record your voice, so even answering and responding to simple questions means the scammers now have a recording of your voice and can impersonate you if that was their goal.
- Second, look up the number and, if necessary, block the number in your phone. If you receive a call from a number that you don't know, try Google to look up the number and see if it's tied to any company or is a number that has been reported as a scammer. There are several websites that allow consumers to post about phone calls they have received and if they are able to identify where the phone calls are coming from. Many times you can tell right away that the number is a scam when searching for it on Google and looking on these sites.
- Put your number on the Do Not Call List. Yes, this list is still around! It may not seem like it's as effective these days, but if your phone number is on it and you still get spam phone calls, you can now report them on the Do Not Call website. Certain types of organizations and companies are exempt from this list and scammers may not care if they're violating it, but even if it reduces your number of spam phone calls by 10%, that's 10% fewer calls that have your phone ringing during the day!
The biggest thing to take from all of this is to stay smart and vigilant. If a phone call/number seems suspicious, ignore it, research it, then (if necessary) block it.