This post is sponsored by T-Mobile
I just happened to call my parents at the right moment. Worried that my dad wasn’t picking up his cell phone, I tried my mom’s cell which she picked up immediately.
“Dad is on the phone with someone because our Apple ID has been hacked,” she frantically told me while telling my dad that I was on the phone. In the background, I could hear my dad shouting at my mom to get me off the phone which was highly suspicious for parents who always love hearing from me.
After a very chaotic start to what was supposed to a normal call, I learned that my parents were about to be scammed via a computer hack. How in the world did this happen? My mom and dad know how to protect themselves from scams!
My dad answered a call from an unknown number on his cell phone from a caller claiming to be Apple support. She proceeded to try to get personal information from him to access his computer.
My dad was just a couple keystrokes away from letting her gain access to his computer remotely. Had he granted her access, she would have mined his computer for logins, passwords, and other personally identifying information. These actions could have drained their bank accounts and resulted in identity theft. Thankfully, my call interrupted the damage she was about to unleash.
With 1,855 robocalls placed every second last year, my parents aren’t alone. Their story could have happened to any of our friends, family and loved ones. Nearly 30 million of us have been scammed by the 58 billion robocalls made last year.
Scams and unwanted robocalls are the #1 complaint to the FCC. They cost Americans over $10 billion a year. Now with coronavirus concerns, scammers are preying on consumers’ growing health and financial fears. Americans have already lost over $80 million to COVID-related scams this year and it’s just getting worse! Coronavirus scams increased 70% from just May to June.
7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Scam Calls
But how can you protect yourself from scam calls? Here are 7 tips to help thwart robocall attacks on your mobile device that can lead to telemarketing fraud.
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information. These days they often disguise communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source. This is called spoofing. Spoofing allows scammers to mimic real names and phone numbers of individuals to make the number looking familiar increasing the likelihood that you’ll answer the phone.
Protect yourself from scam calls by always being skeptical. If you don’t know the name or the phone number of the person calling, don’t answer.
Hang Up on Robocalls
Sometimes I’ve gotten a call where the caller ID pops up with the name of the kids’ school, a doctor’s office I’ve visited, or another known place. Smart scammers spoof numbers in hopes we’ll answer the phone from a caller we may know. This makes it difficult to distinguish between a legitimate call versus a robocall in the split second that you’re looking at your phone deciding whether to answer or not.
It’s ok if you answer the phone. It happens! But once you realize it’s a robocall and not someone you actually want to talk to, protect yourself from scam calls by hanging up. But in that split second where you are trying to decide to answer or not, you can always let the call go to voicemail. If it turns out to be a real call, then just return the call.
Protect Yourself from Scams with Help from Your Wireless Provider
T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, and Sprint customers automatically get Scam Shield, a set of safeguards to help protect them against scammers. Scam Shield stops scammers with free scam identification and blocking for every customer.
Scam Shield also includes features such as free, enhanced Caller ID that gives you more information about who’s calling. T-Mobile customers can protect their personal information with a free second number that keeps your personal number personal. Customers can also take advantage of a free number change and free ID monitoring.
Scam Shield is designed to stop scammers in their tracks using 6 safeguard tools that work to provide information about who’s calling:
- Free scam identification and scam blocking — Suspicious calls are flagged, and customers can turn on scam blocking to never see those calls again.
- Free, Enhanced Caller ID— If we know who’s calling, you’ll know who is calling. And with new improvements, you’ll know when the number is verified as coming from a real person or business.
- Free Second Number— T-Mobile PROXY is a second phone number to keep your personal number personal.
- Free Number Change— If your personal number become a spam magnet, get a clean slate with a new number.
- Free Scam Shield App— The central spot to activate these new protections and, for an extra charge, unlock more advanced call controls. Sprint customers now get free protections — previously an added charge — in the upgraded Call Screener app.
- Free Be ID Aware Service— Get ID monitoring and alerts for 12 months from the experts at McAfee, available for a limited time.
For further information on Scam Shield, and how to turn in on your particular device – please click here.
Don’t Give Away Any Information
Scammers operate in hopes that you’ll give them information so the AARP says your best defense is to tell them nothing. They advise, “If they try to confirm your name, don’t tell them. If they ask if your spouse is home, don’t reply. If they want to verify your address, hang up.”
Any small piece of information given out — your name, address, name of your spouse, etc. — can be used to steal your money, identity, or cause other harm.
Educate Yourself About Recent Scams
Protect yourself from scam calls by getting the latest tips and advice about scams from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Consumer Information Scams section on the FTC website will help you learn about the most recent scams and recognize potential warning signs. To access this information you can go directly to their website or sign up to have FTC email updates sent directly to your inbox.
Put Yourself on the National Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about receiving telemarketing calls. You can register both your home and mobile phone for free but it’s not a perfect gatekeeper. If you receive an unwanted call after your number has been on the National Do Not Call Registry for 31 days, you can report it to the FTC.
If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help protect others from scams, the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams, and bring crooks to justice.
This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own and based on personal experience.