Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Protecting yourself against Scammers - 1 Phone scams

 

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC

 

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 secure. 

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.


Phone scams

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

 

Who's calling? 

 

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
  • Hiya and truecaller may also work, but you need to register to be able to use them
  • In Australia Reverseau.com was the only one to give a definitive answer.
 
Stemming the tide 

 

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:-

Australia 

Sweden 

USA

UK 

Canada, NZ,

India

France 

Croatia 

Belgium, Spain and Italy have them too but the EU in general has a number of laws which prohibit telemarketing and unsolicited calls. 

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

 

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.

 K

1 year ago

"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.

 


No comments: