Anyone with a phone knows what an epidemic unknown calls have become. What’s worst is that technology has made it more difficult to detect these calls: You look at your phone and see a number that’s from the same area as you, so you assume that its somebody you know. But, once you pick up the phone, you realize that it’s a stalker, marketer, or a scammer looking to have a chat about some product or issue. If you’re getting unknown calls, here are 5 things you can do right now to take care of the problem.
1. Don’t Pick up the Phone
It can be tempting to receive a call from a number that looks familiar. You think that maybe you missed adding it to your contacts and it could be somebody important. But, picking up the call from an unknown number is not the right option in most cases. Firstly, if somebody is looking to confirm that the number belongs to you, hearing your voice or name will confirm that they caught the right lead. Even if you refuse to listen to what they have to say after you find out who they are, they can still use your information to contact you later or sell your information to others.
2. Confirm the Phone Number
If you feel that the number could be of somebody you know, then after the ringing stops, confirm the number using an online lookup service like Nuwber. The website is a directory of the phone number, addresses, emails and public records of people. Enter the phone number in the search box to check if it returns a match of someone you know. If you did talk to the person and got there business or contact details, you can use the contact details to see if the person was calling from that business or not. The tool also comes in handy if you are receiving stalker messages. The number can lead to information that you can supply to law enforcement authorities.
3. Don’t Provide any Personal Information
Unfortunately, scammers choose many different methods to successfully get important personal information like social security numbers and credit card numbers from unsuspecting victims. Some of the common frauds include scams related to the IRS, advance fees, health, debt relief, computer repair, charity, dating, jury duty, jobs, etc.
In the advance fee type of scam, someone calls you to tell that you have won a prize or a lottery and you will have to pay a small fee in advance to get your winnings. In the computer repair type of scams, scammers take advantage of the fact that some computer users are not aware of pop up ads. They set up ads that tell users that there’s a problem with their computer and they should call a certain number to get it fixed.
The IRS related scams are also very dangerous because scammers usually ask for information about your identity and assets. Many dating scams target seniors. The scammers create fake profiles and convince people to send them money. Debt collection scams usually involve letters and calls that try to convince you of some debt that you owe and need to pay immediately or bad things will happen. The names of government agencies like the FBI and CIA are also not above scams. This type of scam usually happens in the form of emails with addresses like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Report the Number
There are a number of options for reporting scam calls. You can report telephone scams online to the Federal Trade Commission and caller ID spoofing to the Federal Communications Commission, or call them directly to register your complaint. If you haven’t already, enter your number in the Do Not Call Registry for robocalls and telemarketing calls. The registry may not be able to stop all the calls you receive, but it’s definitely something you should do if you’re receiving a lot of unsolicited marketing calls.
5. Use a Blocking App
There are plenty of free and paid apps available for blocking numbers, including Mr.Number, RoboKiller and TrueCaller. These apps have a number of features to help you reduce the nuisance of unwanted calls. For example, TrueCaller enables you to ID scam callers, block people’s calls and messages, and block robocalls. Besides these apps, your phone also has call blocking options of its own. To blocking on an Android phone, go to the Phone icon or contacts and select the number to be blocked. Then, look for the block number, reject a call, or add to blacklist option. To block on an iPhone, choose the “i” icon you see next to the digits, and then find the Block this Caller option at the bottom of the screen.
Whether you’re receiving creepy messages from an unknown number or being bombarded by telemarketing calls, there are many steps you can take to safeguard yourself from potential danger, identity theft and/or monetary losses. Ideally, when you receive a call like this, you should not respond to it and run the number through a search directory to find more about the person. If you do respond, then make sure that you don’t provide any personal information no matter how legitimate they sound. Often when we hear the name of a government agency we feel obliged to cooperate with them. Remember that agencies like the IRS do not contact ordinary citizens to ask them for on-the-spot payments regardless of how much they owe.
If you’re using a dating site, then make sure that the person you’re talking to exists outside of that website as well. The easiest way to do this is to have a video conversation with them before making any serious commitments about love or cash. Remember to make full use of the facilities like no call registry and fraud reporting services as well. Finally, to take care of the unwanted phones and messages, choose one of the many apps available to do the dirty work for you.