Don't Answer That Phone!

Everyone by now has seen the spike in “robocalls” or fake/spam phone calls to either their home or cellular phones.  From credit card consolidation and vehicle warranty companies to fake Microsoft or financial institutions, it’s non-stop.   For those with the ability to identify callers, my suggestion is don’t answer the phone unless you know who it is.  The chances of a call from an unknown number being an emergency are relatively low and the person can you leave you a voicemail message if it is. You can then call them back as you will know the purpose of the call. No one is going to call with an emergency and then not leave a message.  Most "unknown" calls are from bill collectors, scammers, harassment or wrong numbers.

Many callers now are using “spoofing” techniques where they can disguise the number they are calling from.  Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.
Here’s what to do if you get a call from someone you don’t recognize:
  • If you don’t recognize the number, force them to voicemail and make them leave a message.
  • If you do answer the call and get a recording giving you options, don't press any keys to speak to a live operator or any other number to be removed from the list. If you respond in any way, it will probably just lead to more calls – and they’re likely to be scams.
  • Contact your phone provider. Ask your phone provider what services they provide to block unwanted calls.
  • Put your phone number on the Do Not Call registry. Access the registry online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. Callers who don’t respect the Do Not Call rules are more likely to be crooks.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. Report the experience online or call 1-877-382-4357.
  • From time to time, the caller may have partial bits of personal information that may lead you to believe they are legitimate.  Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious. 

  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it.  Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number.  A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information.  Companies like Microsoft, IRS, anti-virus, banks and credit card companies normally don’t call pressuring you or asking you to confirm account information or place high pressure tactics to buy a service, etc.
  • When in doubt, just hang up!
  • If you feel your personal safety or identity has been jeopardized, please don’t hesitate to contact the department 24/7 @ 919-775-5531.

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