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.

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 – September 1, 2014 – Phone scams

Although so much of our attention is focused on scams perpetrated on the Internet and through means of high technology, a recent survey confirmed that low technology, namely the telephone still is fertile ground for many scams.  According to the Truecaller/Harris survey more than 17 million Americans became victims of telephone scams during the past year at a cost of 8.6 billion dollars.  One specifically telephone connected scam is “cramming” where fraudulent charges are added to your phone bill and often go unnoticed by people who pay little attention to the detailed information provided in lengthy, monthly phone bills particularly for wireless service. There are many ways that these unauthorized charges make their way to a victim’s phone, sometimes, consumers actually unknowingly sign up for premium texting services that may be for things such as flirting tips, horoscopes or celebrity gossip.  Whatever the source of the charges, they are fraudulent and typically cost about $9.99 per month and continue to appear for months without end.  You can find more detailed information about cramming by putting the word “cramming” into the archives section of Scamicide.  Other telephone related fraud occurs when people provide personal information over the phone when called by scamming telemarketers or to scammers who entice or scare the person receiving the call to either provide personal information or make a payment, such as in the present scam in which you receive a call purportedly from the IRS demanding payment for outstanding taxes.

TIPS

In regard to protecting yourself from cramming, you should never click on links or sign up for anything unless you have carefully read the fine print to see what else you may be signing up for.  In fact, you should never click on links in an email or text message unless you have independently verified that it is legitimate.  As for calls from telemarketers, not all telemarketers are criminals, but unfortunately, you have no way of knowing when you receive a call whether or not the person on the other end of the conversation is indeed legitimate or not so you should never provide personal information or payment in response to a telephone call until you have independently verified the call.  You may even wish to put yourself on the federal Do Not Call list to avoid telemarketers.  If you do get a call from a telemarketer after you have put yourself on the list, you know that the person is not legitimate and you should ignore the call.  Here is a link to the Do Not Call list if you wish to enroll.  https://www.donotcall.gov/  You can still receive calls from charities even if you are on the Do Not Call List, but again, you cannot be sure that the person calling is really from the charity so never give money over the phone to a telemarketer who calls you on behalf of a charity.  It is also worth noting that when you do make a charitable donation to a legitimate charity telemarketer, the telemarketer takes a percentage of your contribution as a commission.  If you want your donation to do the most good, you should contact the charity directly to make your donation.