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Protect your phone number! How cheap technology spreads the robocall plague

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Thanks to technology and cheap internet access, the robocall plague will get worse in 2019 and beyond. Why are robocalls surging? Because of advancements in computer technology, especially with voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services and software tools like auto-dialers and Caller ID spoofing, anyone with an inkling of technical know-how can put up their own robocalling business.

With these tools, nefarious telemarketers can make increasingly higher volumes of calls inexpensively from anywhere while concealing their identities. Let’s take a closer look at some of their techniques.

Related: Learn about tools you can use to block unwanted robocalls.

Telemarketers use automated dialing systems

With modern computer systems, automated robocall software can instantly dial many phone numbers all at once then play a preset recorded or computer-generated message when someone picks up. And since it’s all automated, a large-scale robocall operation can be run by a single person.

Where do they get all the phone numbers? Well, robocall software can either dial numbers randomly or it can be fed with numbers gathered from marketing databases or stolen information from data breaches.

And scammers don’t care if you registered your phone number with the Do Not Call Registry. They call them cybercriminals for nothing. They’re not really known for following the law, right?

Additionally, robocall software can spoof caller IDs too and scammers can cover their tracks with fake numbers, making them harder to trace.

Robocallers spoof Caller IDs

Why is it so hard to stop spoofed Caller IDs in the first place? See, our current Caller ID system is still unchanged from its inception in the early ’90s. It’s still based on a system of trust where it’s the callers’ responsibility to identify themselves properly.

Back then, U.S. telephone services were still closed systems managed by a few companies like AT&T and Microwave Communications, Inc. (MCI, now owned by Verizon.)

Fast forward to today and it’s a vastly different landscape. Thousands of companies now offer mobile and internet telephone services around the world. Unfortunately, the Caller ID rules have not kept up with the times and they still rely on the mutual trust system established years ago.

This is why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging U.S. companies to regulate their own networks and implement new systems that can filter and identify robocalls. It’s about time that the government steps in to protect consumers from this growing plague.

The bad news is that there are technical and legal hurdles that need to be overcome. Not only is it expensive and technically difficult to design new Caller ID systems that can automatically filter robocalls, but they can also get into legal trouble if they block legitimate calls in error.

Top spoofed area codes

According to MarketWatch, these are the most common area codes that are used in neighborhood spoofing scams:

  1. 602 — Phoenix
  2. 214 — Dallas
  3. 832 — Houston
  4. 210 — San Antonio
  5. 404 — Atlanta
  6. 678 — Atlanta
  7. 704 — Charlotte
  8. 702 — Las Vegas
  9. 623 — Phoenix
  10. 407 — Orlando

Protect your phone number

Due to the various data breaches and leaked marketing databases, your phone number may already be out there. It’s still recommended you protect it like it’s your Social Security or credit card number, though, and don’t give it away willy-nilly as you probably did before.

And it’s not just robocalls. Remember that nowadays, your personal phone number is also tied to your various account security options such as two-factor authentication and account sign-ins. Plenty of apps and services even require a valid phone number for account creation.

For ultimate security, it’s almost a necessity to have multiple numbers so you won’t have to give out your personal number each time. Reserve your main number for your family, friends and other important communications.

Fortunately, with today’s modern smartphone apps, you can have multiple lines and phone numbers on a single phone. Click here to read more about setting up a temporary secondary number.

Do you want to learn more about protecting yourself against robocalls? Here’s our complete guide to stopping robocalls in 2019.

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