Watch out! Robocall scam calls are on the rise and they are as deceptive and annoying as ever.
Robocalls are automated phone calls with prerecorded messages usually used for political campaigns and marketing purposes. But due to the proliferation of cheap phone software and technology, scammers are getting their hands down and dirty with this fast and easy method of conning people out of their cash
According to Pindrop, a security firm specializing in phone fraud, robocall scams in the U.S. have doubled in the past three years with the elderly as the prime targets. Even worse, the average consumer's phone number now gets contacted by a robocaller fraudster about 10 times a week.
Scarier still, the robocall scammers now utilize phone spoofing software to generate or even impersonate a caller ID. This means they could make a robocall show up on your phone as if it is coming from a familiar person or company.
The most common robocall scams, reports say, are those pretending to be from Google, the IRS or a free cruise ship offer.
Google specifically states that they "do not place robocalls" so if you receive a robocall announcing they are from the search giant, most likely it is a scam. Scammers also try to charge money for "inclusion in Google Search or Google My Business."
Likewise, the IRS robocall scams have pre-recorded messages warning you that you owe the IRS money. The scammers regularly use phone spoofing to impersonate legitimate IRS numbers so be very careful. The IRS states that they "will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail" nor would they "ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone" so calls demanding for immediate payment are definitely fraudulent.
The free cruise robocall scam, on the other hand, will try and get your personal info and charge you for taxes and booking charges off the bat. If a robocaller tells you that you've won a free trip (or anything, for that matter) and you bite, unfortunately, you lose.
Other robocall scams may pretend to be from the police, another government agency or hospitals, so keep an eye (and an ear) out for those.
So how do you protect yourself from these robocall scams?
There are ways to stop robocalls and phone spam. First, if you want to get rid of marketing robocalls altogether, you could sign up for the Do-Not-Call registry.
Next, don't just trust your phone's Caller ID. Try installing phone apps like Truecaller or Nomorobo to shield yourself from spoofed phone numbers and marketing robocalls.
And most of all, be smart, if a pre-recorded message is soliciting for money and asking for personal information over the phone, just hang up immediately without revealing any details.
If you want to report robocall scams, you could file a complaint with the FTC.
Alternatively, to report tax robocall scams, you could go to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page or call 800-366-4484.