A recent article in the New York Post highlights one of life’s universal truths: Robocalls are annoying. But new strategies being employed by some of these scam artists shouldn’t be overlooked. Everyone has likely experienced a call or two where you receive a call from the same area code as yours. Thinking the call could be work related, maybe your doctor’s office or your child’s school, you answer the phone. To your surprise, a robotic voice informs you that you are eligible for lower interest rates on your credit cards or health coverage available in your area. Maybe the voice demands immediate payment due to the IRS or solicits contributions to a charity.
The Frequency of Robocalls
Unfortunately, most of these robocalls are just scams intended to harass, intimidate, and prey on the most vulnerable. And technology has allowed these scam artists new ways to tempt you into engaging with them. Last year alone, consumers reported a $905 million fraud loss to the Federal Trade Commission.
According to a report by YouMail, a company that provides a robocall blocking service, 1,591 robocalls were made every second. Yes, you read that correctly, every second. That amounts to 137.5 million robocalls every day for the month of June. Not surprisingly, these new technologies have caused an increase of over 63 percent since June of last year.
What the New York Post Says About Robocalls
Here are some of the highpoints from the article:
- Watch out for robocalls that contain famous or well-known voices.
- Scammers often take names that are very similar to legitimate charities. For example, a fraudulent group Help the Vets and Veterans of America placed more than 1 million robocalls resulting in almost $500,000 worth of donations. Many consumers likely associated this name with legitimate charities like Vietnam Veterans of America or Disabled Veterans of America.
- Along with the elderly, Millennials are often likely to respond to robocalls because they seldom receive calls.
What You Can Do About These Calls
While there are legitimate charities that use robocalls to keep up with their supporters, I would be weary of donating solely based on a robocall. I have received these calls and so have my clients. Considering that many of my clients are in active bankruptcies, they ask what can be done about these calls. The problem is that many of these calls do not come from reputable companies, so even if you list your number on a federal or state do not call list, you still are harassed.
There are steps you can and should take, however, if you are receiving these calls. First, apps like Truecaller and YouMail provide a free service that tricks callers into thinking your number is out of service. Second, do your homework before you donate. You wouldn’t respond to “here’s a great investment to make for your retirement account” without first making sure it is legitimate. Last, just hang up and block the number to prevent future calls. It may seem frustrating, but technology has its downsides.