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Fraud Watch Tips: Is Your Phone Ringing Off the Hook?

Older mixed race woman talking on phone in art gallery
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Few things can be more annoying than answering the phone when you’re in the middle of something and then having the “person” on the line be another robot telemarketer telling you that someone has "stolen your credit card information." Unfortunately, these illegal telemarketing calls have our phones ringing more than ever and they’re costing victims of scammers millions of dollars each year.

Scammers often leverage legal “robocall” technology unlawfully as a way to dial thousands of numbers at a time, looking for someone to pick up the phone so they can scam them out of their money or identity. A common tactic is “caller ID spoofing” which makes the call look like it’s coming from a trusted source like your bank or a neighbor. At this time there is no way to prevent all unwanted telemarketing calls, but there are some ways to help reduce the calls and hopefully, be protected from scams.

  • Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers, and if you answer what sounds like a potential scam, hang up immediately. If a recorded message asks you to push a button to stop receiving calls, do not do so. It is likely a trick to identify potential targets and the best course of action is to just hang up.
  • Avoid answering any personal questions asked by a stranger on the phone, especially if you’re being asked to share account numbers, your Social Security number, or your mother’s maiden name, for example.
  • If you receive a call from someone who says they represent a company or government agency, hang up and call the entity back --- either at the number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on an official website.
  • Register your number on the national Do Not Call Registry at http://donotcall.gov/. The Do Not Call Registry prohibits sales calls, however, you still may receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls and telephone survey calls. Of course, scammer won’t check the registry before they call you, so continue to be ever mindful.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. In order to have the most up to date information on how to protect yourself from fraud, subscribe to Fraud Watch News Network emails  here.

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The AARP Fraud Watch Network can help you protect yourself and your family from frauds and scams. Call our free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling.

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