I dare say that probably everyone reading this has gotten a call in which you pick up the phone with nothing but silence on the other end of the line. The cynics among us, including me, tend to believe that this must be part of a scam. Remember, as I always say, even paranoids have enemies. However, it can seem confounding to determine how silence on the end of the call could be related to a scam.
The answer is that indeed these calls are the first step in a phone scam. Scammers have huge data banks of phone numbers that are used to make robocalls using computers at little cost for millions of calls. However before they make these calls, such as robocalls from Rachel from Card Services or other telephone based scams, the scammers first confirm that the telephone numbers that they are calling belong to real people and that is where the calls you get with no one apparently on the line come in. These calls are just test calls by the scammers to confirm that the number is an active telephone number of a real person.
I must admit that when I get a phone call from a number that I do not recognize, particularly from one outside of my area, I don’t even bother to answer the call. I merely wait to see if it is from a legitimate caller who leaves a voice mail message or if it is from a scammer who doesn’t bother to leave a message. As for robocalls, it is important to remember that commercial robocalls are illegal so that anyone calling to do any kind of business in this manner is already violating the law and therefore is not worthy of your trust. It is important to remember that whenever you get a call from anyone requesting personal information from you, it is impossible to know if they are legitimate or even are who they say they are. Through a technique called “spoofing” it is easy to fool your Caller ID to make it appear that a call from a scammer is coming from your bank, the IRS or anyone else the scammer wants to appear to be. Consequently, you should never give personal information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called. If you receive such a call and it appears legitimate, merely hang up and call back the company at a number that you know is legitimate.