Robocalls – everyone hates them, but it can seem impossible to stop them. They used to be reserved mainly for landlines, but as more people have ditched the landline and cell phone numbers have been spread over the Internet, robocalls to our personal cell phones have increased steadily.
It’s estimated that robocalls will make up almost 50% of all phone calls in 2019. Even worse, these calls are not just from telemarketers anymore. Many robocalls are now part of scams and schemes, designed to take your money or your personal information.
There’s the government grant scam, where scammers are calling people in the United States and offering them free money, supposedly from a government grant. But, of course, there is a “processing fee” and verification process requiring the person give money as well as their name, address, employer, and bank information.
One of the most common robocalls is the IRS scam. A fake IRS agent claims you owe past taxes and fees due immediately. If you don’t pay right away, they threaten to issue an arrest warrant.
There’s also the Google SEO scam, targeting small business owners with Google business listings. The robocaller pretends to be from Google and says that your business listing will disappear unless you buy SEO services, which requires payment information. Google has specifically stated they do not place robocalls, so any call claiming to be from Google is likely a scam.
Other scams that get a lot of attention are those targeting seniors. A scammer will call older adults claiming to be a grandchild needing money. They will ask for large amounts of money to be wired via bank transfer right away.
So how can you protect yourself?
New regulations passed by the FCC at the end of July expanded the FCC’s ability to crack down on robocalls, but it doesn’t actually prevent these calls and texts from happening.
Typical recommendations include getting on the National Do Not Call Registry, using carrier tools (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have options), or just not picking up for numbers you don’t recognize. But these solutions are not foolproof. They mostly rely on user reports to block specific numbers or provide a “threat risk” for incoming calls instead of actually blocking them.
The problem is that the technology scammers use is built to work around these “solutions”. For example, scammers can now change numbers so quickly that as soon as a number is reported as a scam, they simply move on to a new number. Robocallers can also copy local numbers (via a technique called “neighborhood spoofing”) that uses legitimate local numbers to make their calls.
That’s why we designed a more comprehensive solution to the problem: Voice Valet.
After all, the best solution to robocalls is for scammers to not have access to your phone number.
So many online forms and companies ask for your cell phone number these days, and that is how your number gets out into the public’s – and scammer’s – hands. Voice Valet gives you a second phone number to use for anyone who is not a personal contact. Restaurant reservations, charities, online shopping – any time you have to submit a phone number, you can use your second Voice Valet number.
Here’s what happens when someone calls that number. The call goes straight to voicemail. Anyone who actually wants to leave a message, for example, asking for additional charitable donations, will leave a message. Robocalls and other spam will hang up and move on to their next victim.
On your end, transcripts and recordings are emailed directly to whatever email address you provide at sign up. You can scan through the voicemails at your convenience and decide which calls actually need your action or attention.
Stop robocalls today, for good. For more information on Voice Valet, visit our Voice Valet page.