Scam of the day – August 24, 2017 – FTC begins new initiative against robocalls

Automated robocalls which, for commercial purposes are illegal, are the number one consumer complaint reported by the public to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The ease by which illegal robocalls may be made by computers accounts for much of the problem.

Recently the FTC announced a new initiative by which it is asking consumers to file complaints with the FTC when they have been called by a robocaller and to report the number used by the robocaller.  This helps us all because many of the call blocking solutions used today depend upon blacklisting specific telephone numbers known to have been used to make robocalls.  Here is a link to where you can file such a complaint if you have received an illegal robocall.

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-4

TIPS

There are a number of options for preventing robocalls including a number of apps that for free or a small fee will prevent robocalls.  Here is a link to those for Android phones.

https://www.ctia.org/consumer-tips/robocalls/android-robocall-blocking

Here is a link to apps to prevent robocalls for iPhones.

https://www.ctia.org/consumer-tips/robocalls/ios-robocall-blocking

For landlines, Nomorobo offers its robocall blocking for free.  Here is a link to Nomorobo. I have used Nomorobo for years and find it to be tremendously useful

https://www.nomorobo.com/

Finally, you can just choose to ignore any calls that come from numbers you do not recognize.  If they are legitimate calls, they will leave a message and you can call them back.

Scam of the day – June 6, 2017 – Court takes action against robocaller

A federal court in California recently ruled that Aaron Michael Jones along with nine affiliated companies were responsible for billions of illegal robocalls.  The court issued a permanent injunction against Jones and the companies as well as fining Jones 2.7 million dollars to be paid to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

According to the FTC, Jones and his companies made billions of illegal telemarketing robocalls between March 2009 and May 2016 including calls made to people whose numbers were registered on the federal Do Not Call List.  The calls were sales pitches for extended automobile warranties, search engine optimization services and home security systems.

TIPS

The first defense against phone scammers is skepticism.  You can never be sure when you receive a phone call or a text message as to who is really contacting you.  Even if you have Caller ID, scammers can use a technique called spoofing to make the call appear to be originating from a legitimate source.  Never provide personal information including credit card information to anyone who calls you or text messages you without confirming the legitimacy of the call or text message.  You also may wish to use services like nomorobo  which screens robocalls or Truecaller which screens your phone calls and text messages for robocalls to your smartphone although there have been privacy complaints about Truecaller’s accumulation of data of its customers.

April 27, 2017 – Steve Weisman’s latest column for the Saturday Evening Post

Robocalls are more than just an inconvenience.  They can also cost you money and even your identity.  Here is a link to my latest column for the Saturday Evening Post in which I tell you what you can do to stop robocalls.

Con Watch: How to Protect Yourself from Robocalls

Scam of the day – April 26, 2017 – New survey indicates Americans lost 9.5 billion dollars to phone scams last year

A recent survey done by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller, a company that provides phone security services concludes that during the last twelve months approximately 22.1 million Americans were victims of various phone scams both on their landlines and smartphones with an average loss of $430 per victim which is a 56% increase from a similar survey done in 2015.

Phone scams come in a variety of forms including phony charity solicitations and fake IRS calls, but they all have one thing in common. They can easily steal your money if you are not careful.

The survey also showed who was being scammed and the results were interesting.  American men were almost twice as likely to become a victim of phone fraud as American women and millennial males were the most vulnerable group of all.

The survey also pointed out vulnerabilities of people on their smartphones where 72% of the fraudulent losses occurred.  In 2014, smartphones accounted for just 29% of fraudulent phone call losses.  Of course, with increased use of text messaging, fraudulent text messages open up a new venue for scammers.

TIPS

The first defense against phone scammers is skepticism.  You can never be sure when you receive a phone call or a text message as to who is really contacting you.  Even if you have Caller ID, scammers can use a technique called spoofing to make the call appear to be originating from a legitimate source.  Never provide personal information including credit card information to anyone who calls you or text messages you without confirming the legitimacy of the call or text message.  You also may wish to use services like nomorobo which screens robocalls or Truecaller which screens your phone calls and text messages.

Scam of the day – February 23, 2017 – FTC settles robocall scam charges regarding Caribbean cruise scam

The Federal Trade Commission and ten states have settled civil charges against Fred Accuardi and a number of his affiliated companies that used illegal robocalls and telemarketing to sell Caribbean cruises under the guise of the victims receiving a free cruise for participating in a survey.

Between October 2011 and July 2012, the defendants made 15 million illegal robocalls  each day in which the person answering the call was told that he or she had been chosen to participate in a thirty second survey in return for which he or she would receive a free two day cruise to the Bahamas.  The truth is that the calls were used to market cruises of Caribbean Cruise Lines, Inc in which the consumers were convinced into paying for more expensive, higher level cruise packages.

TIPS

Automated robocalls are a scam that has been with us for many years and despite the best efforts of the Federal Trade Commission, still is victimizing many people.    It is easy to identify a robocall that is a scam.  If you get a robocall, it is a scam.  Commercial robocalls are illegal.  In 2013 I reported to you about  how the FTC, in an effort to combat robocalls held a contest with a $50,000 prize to the person who came up with the best solution to stop robocalls. The winners that year were Aaron Foss and Serdar Danis who split the prize.  Their solution involved software that will filter out calls being placed by a computer or someone identified as an unwanted caller.  When you use the software, if a robocall comes in, it rings once on your phone and then your phone automatically hangs up on the call.  So all you have to do is let the phone ring and if it stops after one ring, it was a robocall.

The software developed by Foss and Danis is now available to anyone for free for your landline and for $4.99 per month for both your landline and mobile phone.  The company providing the service is Nomorobo and you can sign up for the service at   https://www.nomorobo.com/

Long time Scamicide reader Marty Kenney recently reminded me about nomorobo.  He has used it for a long time successfully.

Scam of the day – January 29, 2017 – “Can you hear me” phone scam is a hoax

The era of fake news has been with us for quite a while and it includes reports of scams that never have occurred.  Presently a number of sources including the Better Business Bureau and others are reporting about a scam that is often referred to as the “Can you hear me” phone scam.

The purported scam involves an automated call that asks “Can you hear me” and when the person receiving the call indicates “yes,” the response is recorded and used to authorize unwanted charges on your phone bill through cramming or other accounts.

Many people have received these unwanted calls, however, no one has yet reported actually being victimized by this scam.  Verified reports have only been of receiving such a call.

Even paranoids have enemies, but this scam does appear to be somewhat overstated.  It seems to be similar to the commonly reported scam about people getting out of their cars to retrieve a $100 bill left on their windshield only to have their car hijacked when they attempt to do so. This scam was described in the media although it never actually happened.

TIPS

While this “Can you hear me” scam appears to be not true, in theory, it does provide a lesson in caution when responding to unsolicited phone calls.  You may wish to avoid such telemarketing calls altogether by enrolling in the Do-Not-Call List which you can do by going to https://www.donotcall.gov/

If you receive a telemarketing call after enrolling in the Do-Not-Call list, you can be sure that it is a scam.

You also may wish to avoid robocalls by enrolling in nomorobo, which cuts off robocalls after one ring.  You can enroll at https://www.nomorobo.com/

Finally, if you do answer a telemarketer, never respond with an affirmative declaration, such as “yes” to any automated call or telemarketer.

Scam of the day – August 6, 2016 – A free way to stop robocalls

Automated robocalls, such as those which we have all received from “Rachel from card services” that try to induce us to get a new credit card or any other service are a scam that has been with us for many years and despite the best efforts of the Federal Trade Commission, still is victimizing many people.  The calls sound legitimate and if you are not sufficiently skeptical, you can end up having your identity stolen or scammed out of money for a worthless product being sold.  It is easy to identify a robocall that is a scam.  If you get a robocall, it is a scam.  Commercial robocalls are illegal.  In 2013 I reported to you about  how the FTC, in an effort to combat robocalls held a contest with a $50,000 prize to the person who came up with the best solution to stop robocalls. The winners that year were Aaron Foss and Serdar Danis who split the prize.  Their solution involved software that will filter out calls being placed by a computer or someone identified as an unwanted caller.  When you use the software, if a robocall comes in, it rings once on your phone and then your phone automatically hangs up on the call.  So all you have to do is let the phone ring and if it stops after one ring, it was a robocall.

TIPS

The software developed by Foss and Danis is now available to anyone for free for your landline and for $4.99 per month for both your landline and mobile phone.  The company providing the service is Nomorobo and you can sign up for the service at   https://www.nomorobo.com/

Long time Scamicide reader Marty Kenney recently reminded me about nomorobo.  He has used it for a long time successfully.