Published: May 15, 2021 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Oh, the never ending robocalls…morning, noon, night…surveys, telemarketers, vishing…For most folks, robocalls can’t stop soon enough. Data shows that in March 2019 alone, 2.5 billion illegal robocalls were made to unsuspecting recipients. Many look to third-party apps like YouMail and RoboKiller to help stop the madness. But savvy users know that many third-party apps collect personal data. That’s the last thing someone wants who feels their private information, like their phone number, is already too available. And it’s not just being annoyed by robocalls as many of them are used for nefarious purposes.
The U.S. Government has been trying to limit robocalls for years. They created the “Do Not Call Registry” in 2003 for citizens who want to add their phone number to that list. The problem is, many of these calls are illegal–and not from upstanding callers who pay attention to the Registry. The FCC estimates these calls cost consumers more than $3 billion per year in lost time alone. Vishing (voice phishing) is also a serious concern as those calls have two goals in mind: separate people from their money and/or steal your identity. The sad fact is that a study shows 47% of robocalls were found to be illegal and that has turned many to third party apps for assistance.
Third party apps are infamous for collecting user data and apps that help stop robocalls are no exception. Data is harvested by these apps, often by requesting permission to personal data during the download process. Users have the option to deny this access, but those who aren’t paying attention can end up on the short end of the data stick. All kinds of personal data is collected by these apps, including text messages, photos, name, age, location, and personal preferences. This data is often sold to marketers and advertisers who use it to target consumers with their products and services…which even may cause an increase in the amount of robocalls those products are supposed to be helping to stop.
Fortunately, some smartphone manufacturers and service carriers are starting to come on board by offering their users options to silence and prevent robocalls. In the meantime, the following precautions can help reduce robocalls without turning to third party apps. But of course, some may still slip through…
Do Not Call Registry: Visit the FCC website to put your phone number on their Registry. This helps stop robocalls from law abiding callers. It takes up to 31 days for your number to be activated.
Block Specific Numbers: Manually block numbers of suspected robocallers with your smartphone. After receiving these calls, navigate to the Block Contact option for the phone number. This stops the same number from calling again.
Don’t Answer Calls: Never answer calls from blocked numbers or from those you don’t recognize. Doing so only encourages more robocalls, because then they know you just might answer one time.
Check with Your Provider: Most wireless carriers offer some type of call blocking feature. While some are a free service, many are not. Check with your carrier for additional details on this.
Verify a Caller: If a caller claims to be from a legitimate source like a government agency or bank, hang up immediately and look up their true phone number. Only then should you call them back. Government agencies and even businesses won’t initiate correspondence via the telephone or even email. They will send a letter in the mail first.
It’s unlikely these calls will stop any time soon, but following the above steps can sure help limit your risk of becoming a victim of fraud and/or identity theft.
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