Are you unaware of Caller ID Limitations? Are you underusing ‘Do Not Call’ Registry? If your aswer is “yes,” don’t feel alone. According to a newly released survey from the AARP Fraud Watch Network, while most Americans suspect that most of the automated messages (called “robocalls”), few are taking actions to protect themselves.
An estimated 48 billion robocalls came into the United States last year. Nearly half of U.S. adults surveyed by AARP said they receive seven or more robocalls per week
With its efficiency to make mass telephone notifications, an increasing number of company’s are using automated call technology to make notifications for flight or school cancellations, polling and other legitimate purposes. Even AARP uses this robocall technology to reach its members to promote its educational programming, including how to stay safe from scams and fraud. But this technology has a dark side. It has made it easier and cheaper for con artists to quickly scam millions with their fraud schemes. The Federal Trade Commission says telephone scams cost U.S. consumers $429 million last year.
Check Out the National Do Not Call Registry
AARP’s survey verified that nearly all consumers rely on caller ID when deciding when to answer a call, even though three-in-four of the survey respondents say they know the information that shows up may be fabricated, or “spoofed.”
Spoofing has given the criminals the upper hand: The AARP survey found that U.S. adults are more likely to answer a call seemingly from a local area code (59 percent), an area code where friends or family live (44 percent) or an area code and telephone exchange that matches their own (36 percent).
“Be wary when you pick up the phone. A number that looks familiar or local may be neither familiar nor local,” said Kathy Stokes, director, fraud prevention programs, AARP, in a statement released with the report on May 22. “Con artists have become increasingly sophisticated and devious, and once they connect with you and get you talking it’s far too easy to fall prey to their schemes,” she says.
AARP’s survey shows that people are more likely to be victimized by scam pitches involving threatened losses – “You owe unpaid taxes” or “You are facing jail time for missing jury duty” – than those promising rewards – “You’ve won the foreign lottery” or “You qualify for a free vacation.” Fifty-one percent of the respondents say they would respond to a negative or fear-based call scenario than those who said a positive or promise-of-wealth pitch would prompt them to engage (41 percent).
To help protect against illegal robocalls, the AARP Fraud Watch Network (FWN) recommends that consumers add their telephone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. Only about half of the survey respondents said they have done so. Registering your number will not put a stop to fraudulent calls, but it will make them easier to recognize since most legitimate telemarketers do not call numbers on the registry.
Always Report Scams to Law Enforcement
The FWN also recommends exploring free or low-cost call-blocking apps, and urges consumers to report all scam calls to the proper authorities. For a complete list of “do’s” and “don’ts” regarding illegal and scam robocalls, visit www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.
For more findings from the AARP survey, see the research report, “Who’s Really on the Line?”
The FWN was launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.
To add your number to the “Do Not Call Registry, go to www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/list-number-national-do-not-call-registry.