Not all countries keep records and many
scams go unreported, but according to truecaller's latest report, between July
2020 and June 2021, 59.49 million Americans lost around $USD $29.8 billion in the USA alone. Statistica which has been documenting similar trends, anticipates
that those figures will only keep rising as more people and businesses rely on
online services and more people work from home, where things might not be as
The site scam detector not only has a huge list of potential scams to watch out for but very quickly
verifies the authenticity of any website. As you can see scammers are getting
more creative and sophisticated all the time. I will just be mentioning a few
of the more common ones here, but the best defence is to inform yourself as
much as possible so you are less likely to be taken in.
While Australia's Scamwatch hasn’t been much help in
getting my money back, it is the place to report scams and also has some tips about avoiding them. Australia’s
Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) which runs this site, has also published an excellent “Little Black Book of Scams” which you can get online. It includes things like romance scams and employment
and investment scams and how to avoid them.
My own experience is a salutary lesson in what
not to do. The buying and selling site did warn against taking things off
-line, but having tried every wrecker both in my own state and elsewhere, I was
getting desperate and the fact that the person called as soon as I’d put up the
ad, caught me off guard. He’d also had positive reviews on the site and sent me
a photo of his driver’s licence as proof of id. I will be taking my phone number
off that site.
Having had around 20 scam calls between August and September, I no longer answer calls from unknown numbers and have delisted my number (see how to do this at the end of the post). This works quite well most of the time, but I did miss two calls from my sister’s friends after she ended up in hospital. In future, if you want to contact me but aren’t on my contact list, please leave a message and I’ll get back to you if I think it’s legitimate.
See the video by the Fort Community Credit Union (USA) for more on this:
The caller may not be trying to sell you something, but checking to see if the number is real in order to on -sell or capture useful data like your bank details or social security number. Sometimes legitimate businesses also have their numbers hijacked (spoofed) so they aren't necessarily at fault. Here's what to do if you do accidentally pick up on a call from an unknown number.
Hang up quickly –
- Do not answer
- Do not press any buttons
- Don’t answer any questions
- Don’t give out any personal information
- Note the number
You can look up numbers on various sites to
see if they have been reported (see below) but be aware the number used in my
case only showed up on one of them. One of the best ones comes from Legal Beagle in the USA though it applies worldwide. Their site has more along with other useful tips for keeping safe.
- Simply Google the number by entering it in the search bar inside quotation marks like this “34564250” and you may get more information [this is a made -up number so you won’t get a response].
- Whitepages.com and insert the number. If it’s
listed, it will tell you who it belongs to. I got a zilch on this one
- In the USA you can also try AnyWho.com which doesn't work on non US numbers.
- Tel-book.com - You can report numbers here too just by clicking a button next to the number or calling them
- In Australia Reverseau.com was the only one to give a definitive answer.
1. Use a call screening
service. Get the truecaller app on your phone to identify callers and detect
spam. This is free. There is also a premium version with more options and no
ads. A number of other companies offer similar services but they
seem to be more country specific and some charge a fee for this, especially telecos. Swedish based truecaller also has more
tips. Don't give out your phone number online or over the phone.
2. Register your number on the
Do not Call Register for your country. For details re Australia, the US and the UK, including how well they are working, click here.
To register your number click on the link for your country below:-
If you have put your number on a do not
call register and you receive unsolicited calls from a business, report it to
the relevant authority. Australia has lately come down hard on
those who flaunt the law. According to several reports, the government run schemes such as in the US and Australia, seem to work quite well, yet in some countries they are run by the marketers themselves, in the case of the UK by non - profit consumer group Which? and these don't seem to be as successful.
[PS. Someone should tell Brazil about this. It has the world’s largest number of spam calls by a very large margin]
4. Remove your number from any marketing and mailing lists you may have subscribed to. This includes loyalty cards and the like which you may have forgotten about. Read their T & C ‘s carefully esp. about data sharing with third parties and how they will secure your information. Sometimes there are breaches or they have been hacked, so it isn’t always their fault. Lastly, shred any mail with personal details on it such as your phone number, email address or account numbers and secure your letter box.
5. Report scams. Here are some of the ghostbusters in the world of spam;-
- The Ripoff Report operates in almost all countries except the EU. The site is a bit difficult to navigate because it covers all types of fraud, court cases and so forth, but you can report on phone numbers as well as other scams here. Most of the reverse lookup sites also allow you to report dodgy numbers (see previous section).
- EU and UK - Europol - This page gives you links to each country
- AU - Scamwatch
Beware the newest phone scam
As if existing scams weren't bad enough, the latest scam involves stealing the entire contents of your phone via its sim card.
What can you do about it?
I'm not sure if this works, but here's a comment in response to the video.
"If you get calls from you own number close your account. Change service provider & forward your new sim number to Google voice. Block you own number from calling your sim number from calling your phone. Change your sim voice mail message to your Google voice number. Never use wifi. Android users also block auto updates where you live and work."
Next Up: Fake emails, Fake Ads, Suspicious Websites
Don't worry I haven't forgotten about Aviation and there is a bit of good news coming up. Just thought I should finish with this topic now, to save someone else getting their fingers burnt.