I would hazard a guess that for many of us, answering the phone has become an exercise in frustration. If you are like me, regardless of the efforts I have taken to place my number on the DoNotCall registry and to use my caller id to prescreen before answering, I am still bombarded with scam calls each and every day. What makes it worse is that the robo-callers and scammers are now using a technique called “spoofing” where they can disguise their identity on caller id and make it appear that a legitimate business is calling. This spoofing technique has resulted in innocent individuals picking up the phone believing that the IRS or Social Security is calling and ultimately being strong-armed into releasing personal information to the callers. A recent article by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discusses this issue and provides the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a call scam:
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
- If the caller is not who you were expecting, hang up immediately.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, or other identifying information if a call seems suspicious.
I would add the following personal tips to the list:
- Unsolicited callers are interrupting your day and should never be engaged simply because they “sound like such a nice person”. Their goal is to gain your trust, catch you off-guard and then STEAL from you.
- If you hang up on them, do not answer when they call you back repeatedly. The fact that you spoke with them in the first place makes you a “live one” they believe they can conquer.
- Scammers use tactics of simply verifying your data, fear, and threats to gather your personal data. If you are being pressured, you should hang up.
We have moved well beyond the days when we could safely use caller id to selectively answer our phones and unfortunately, we need to be skeptical about each and every inquiry we receive. Each of us must be vigilant in protecting our personal data to the best of our ability and ensuring that those who depend on us, whether children or parents are taking appropriate precautions as well.
istock photo – #1132999064