So many scams start with a phone call, whether it is to sell you phony tech support that you don’t need, trick you into contributing to a phony charity or any other of the myriad of scams that are perpetrated over the phone including many that are illegal automated robocalls. There are a number of defenses you can use to protect yourself from phone scams, but an intriguing new one is Lenny. Lenny is a chatbot which is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to conduct a conversation with the person calling you. Chatbots simulate the responses of a real person in a phone call and while chatbots have been used as a tool of scammers, Lenny is a chatbot that is a weapon against scammers once Lenny is installed on your phone although installing Lenny is probably more complicated than it is worth.

There are a lot of YouTube videos that provide the audio of phone calls in which Lenny, whose voice is that of an elderly man, uses up the valuable time of the scammer on the other end of the line who gets increasingly frustrated with Lenny. Here is a link to such a phone call.

Scammers generally have been found to stay on the line for around seven minutes talking to Lenny before they give up and hang up the phone.

TIPS

Automated robocalls have proven to be the source of many scams. Fortunately, there are a number of options for preventing robocalls including a number of apps that for free or a small fee will prevent robocalls.

Samsung’s SmartCall informs you if the call you are receiving is from a known robocaller. This feature is available with newer Samsung Galaxy phones. Here is a link to information about SmartCall and instructions as to how to activate this app.

http://www.samsung.com/levant/apps/smart-call/

Google also has a spam blocker that will warn you when you are receiving a robocall and your screen will turn red. Here is a link to information about the app and how to install it.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.dialer&hl=en

AT&T also offers free apps to block robocalls on iPhones and Android phones. Here is a link to information about these apps.

https://www.att.com/features/security-apps.html?partner=LinkShare&siteId=TnL5HPStwNw-yrUS1uDw9WGvN._xt67yew&source=ECay0000000CEL00O

Verizon’s CallerName ID offers a service for iPhones and Android phones that will alert you to suspected robocallers. Here is a link to Verizon’s app.

https://www.verizonwireless.com/solutions-and-services/caller-name-id/

T-Mobile offers a free scam blocker of known robocallers for Android phones which you can activate by merely dialing #662#

Sprint offers a paid service to protect your iPhone or Android phone from robocalls. For more information, use this link

http://explore.t-mobile.com/callprotection

Here is the link for YouMail

https://www.youmail.com/home/apps

For landlines as well as smartphones there are a number of apps such as Nomorobo, Truecaller, Hiya, RoboKiller and YouMail that offer robocall blocking for free or for small monthly charges. Here is a link to those apps. I have used Nomorobo for years and find it to be tremendously useful

https://www.nomorobo.com/

https://www.truecaller.com/

https://hiya.com/

https://www.robokiller.com/

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.youmail.android.vvm&hl=en_US

Finally, in regard to non-robocalls, a good tactic is 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. In any event, you should never give personal information including credit card or other financial information to anyone who calls you on the phone unless you have absolutely confirmed that the call is legitimate. Through spoofing, a scammer can make his or her call appear to be coming from a legitimate source.

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