If you are like most of us, it happens all the time! Calls from telemarketers, scammers, and who knows who else, are constant. If you still have a land line and answering machine, you can screen your calls and decide whether to pick up, after you hear who is calling. On your cell phone, it can be a little trickier.
It’s great that the incoming number is displayed on your screen, even with a name or picture if they are in your contacts. However, the scammers and tricksters out there can spoof numbers. What does that mean? Have you ever answered a call because the number seemed similar to your own and you figure it may be someone you know, only to find it is yet another robo-call or live salesperson? It has happened to me more times than I can count. Once you answer, they know the number is good and they start calling from a bunch of similar numbers. One day I blocked nine different numbers in a single afternoon, because they just kept calling from other numbers. Blocking is an awesome feature of the cell phone, but as I said, they will just call from another spoofed number or outgoing line and hound you regardless.
My favorites are the ones bold enough to go to voicemail that state, “we are calling from your credit card company, with an urgent message, please call us at 1-888-BOLOGNA!” First and foremost, if you are my credit card company, you would know what company you are. “We are calling regarding your Discover Card”. I do not have a Discover Card, so I know that one is full of bologna too. It did spur me to check my Credit Report though, just to make sure some “ME-Wannabe” had not opened a Discover Card in my name.
Did you know that the scammers, fraudsters and identity thieves can make it look like they are calling from the phone of one of your family members? This is how they have pulled scams on people, claiming to be a family member in need of an immediate wire transfer for bail money or even ransom. It is crazy! They have also used this trick to make it appear they are calling from financial institutions. This said, if you ever get a call that says it is coming from us, here at Gardiner FCU, do not give out any of your personal information over the phone. Instead, we ask that you get the name and extension number of the person who is calling you. Tell them this is a bad time and that you will call back later. Then call us or come in to see the person who claimed to be calling you. It is better to verify and be safe, than to be scammed.
You may wonder, “what good is the Do Not Call Registry?” It should put a halt to unwanted sales calls from reputable businesses. It does not prohibit political calls, calls from charities, debt collectors or surveys. Sorry. However, registering is still a good idea. It gives you a leg to stand on. Tell the caller you are on the Do Not Call list and they should not bother you again. Reputable companies face stiff penalties for calling, so chances are if they call again, they are out to scam you. There are also a number of call blocking services and mobile apps that can help block some of those unwanted calls. I have considered trying them, but then what would I complain about?
If you have been compromised or want additional protection for your identity and your credit, Gardiner FCU offers IDShield , through LegalShield. The premiums are low and the coverage is comparable to other big name plans. https://w3.legalshield.com/gs/init?grp=gfcu
Below are helpful links to the Better Business Bureau, the FCC , the National Do Not Call Registry and more information and links for call blocking services. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself, your family and your finances.
FCC article Caller ID Spoofing
FTC National Do Not Call Registry
Article from USA Today that gives tips and links to services to block unwanted calls