How to stop robocall scams and block numbers
Robocall scams refer to pre-recorded messages that use misleading and illegal means to defraud people. The unwanted phone calls follow various scenarios, from threatening messages to proposals for various goods.
So, illegal robocalls can be from companies you have not permitted to contact you. In other cases, recorded messages come from people focused on various telemarketing scams. They can spin various stories, from better health insurance deals to problems with people’s tax returns.
Caller ID spoofing is also a common technique in robocall scams. Practices show that targets are more willing to answer unwanted calls if the phone numbers feature their area codes.
Let’s see how you can recognize robocall scams and prevent such spam calls from reaching you in the future.
What are robocall scams?
Robocall scams are vishing calls using auto-dialers that can contact dozens of people in a short period of time. In essence, robocalls are not inherently ill-natured. Legitimate companies can set them to remind clients of appointments or make emergency announcements.
Despite efforts like do not call lists and call authentication, illegal robocalls continue threatening users. The scams have their ups and downs, like when the number of robocalls dropped during the pandemic. The sudden reduction occurred due to work-from-home requirements and many call centers closing.
However, recent YouMail May 2022 statistics showcase just how prevalent robocall scams in the US are:
- In May, 4 billion robocall scams targeted the US.
- Per day, scammers would initiate 128.7 million calls.
- It means approximately 12 calls per person.
- The most targeted states included Texas, California, and Florida.
How do robocall scams work?
Robocall scams can be after targets’ money and personal information. Some of the most common unsolicited calls pretend to originate from:
- Revenue services.
- Travel companies.
- Mobile network operators.
- Insurance companies.
- E-commerce companies.
- Debt collectors
Also, let’s look at each stage of robocall scams:
- A robocall means that machines initiate them, likely picking random numbers. Scammers can get lead lists of phone numbers from data brokers or leaked databases.
- Many robocall scams use caller ID spoofing to hide the origin of the call. For the best results, they can disguise their numbers with legitimate numbers.
- Scammers can opt for numbers with area codes corresponding to their victims’ locations.
- If victims pick up such illegal robocalls, they will hear pre-recorded messages explaining a false scenario. It might claim that there are problems with users’ bank accounts. However, calls can be more positive, like fake winnings of luxurious, all-paid vacations.
- The message might urge victims to press a particular key. Then, the call can redirect them to a live scammer, further supporting the fake story.
- During the call, the robocall scam can urge you to share personal data, like Social Security numbers or credit card information.
- Even if users refuse everything, the fact that you pressed a particular key will showcase your phone number being active. So, you might receive repetitive robocall scams or fraudulent text messages.
Examples of robocall scams
Scammers exploit many legitimate companies as cover for their robocall scams. Pre-recorded messages can claim to be from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Verizon, Bank of America, etc.
Amazon robocall scams
Scam calls related to Amazon delivery services have increased, especially with the boom in online shopping during the COVID-19 quarantine. Usually, such nuisance Amazon scams claim that hefty sums of money were stolen from targets’ accounts. However, they could relate to delivery delays, problems with payments, and more.
Apple robocall scams
Some pre-recorded messages claim to originate from Apple customer service. A common false scenario is a suspicious activity on users’ iCloud accounts.
People have reported receiving such robocall scams only to be redirected to legitimate Apple support. The presumed goal here is that scammers listen in or record such conversations, hoping that people reveal personal details.
Misleading and spreading false information
Most illegal robocalls are after monetary gain from their victims. However, some are outright harassing or misdirecting people.
In 2019, many Canadians received fake pre-recorded messages about the changed election dates. The fraudulent information urged Canadians to come to vote the day after the actual date.
What do authorities do to stop illegal robocalls?
In the US, people can report robocall scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has strongly supported the fight against scam calls via their regulations.
In 2022, the FCC voted on a law going after international calls that enter via gateway providers. The new requirements mean that smaller providers would need to approve calls before passing them to the states. In the past, FCC also introduced bills to combat caller ID spoofing.
Generally speaking, robocalls are legal in most countries worldwide. For instance, companies can make them in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and India. Europe only allows robocalls to people that have given prior consent to receive such communication.
Common warning signs of robocall scams
- You have received a robotic message from an unknown number and company you never interacted with before.
- The message intimidates you by warning you about tax returns, credit cards, or insurance problems.
- The pre-recorded message claims you have won lotteries or giveaways you never participated in.
- The call requires you to press numbers or state your full name.
How to block phone numbers delivering robocall scams
You can block specific phone numbers from ever contacting you.
Block robocall scams on Android:
- Open the Phone app from the home screen.
- Choose Recents and find the number you wish to block.
- Tap and hold it until a small menu appears.
- Choose the Block/report scam option.
Block robocall scams on iOS:
- Open the Phone app from the home screen.
- Find the number you wish to block.
- Tap the i next to the phone number.
- In the following menu, pick Block this Caller.
How to stop and avoid robocall scams
Robocalls can be costly and highly dangerous depending on their aim. Therefore, follow these simple steps to stay safe from them:
- Block numbers that you have received robocalls from. However, it is not a long-term solution as scammers can contact you from different numbers.
- Report phone numbers to authorities monitoring scam calls and messages in your country.
- If you happen to answer a robocall, never interact with it by pressing keys or providing personal information.
- If a robocall scam claims to originate from a company you use, contact it directly through official numbers.
- Never reveal personal information via phone calls or messages. Facilities like banks or insurance agencies remind clients that consultants never require personal data via phone or email.