New Robocall Scams
One might assume that the prevalence of mobile devices and Caller ID had made new Robocall scams a relic of the past. But telephones, mobile and otherwise, have never been more plentiful, which means that consumers need to be on high alert for scams that might target them or their loved ones. These new robocall scams vary in their nature, making it more difficult for consumers to protect themselves.
The best defense against these new Robocall scams is relatively simple: knowledge. The more you know about the swindlers calling you, the less likely you are to fall victim to the scam in question.
Getting calls from the someone who claims to be from the IRS isn’t exactly a new robocall scam. But that doesn’t mean consumers should drop their guard. The scam works like this: someone will call your phone and claim to be from the IRS. This scammer will demand a wide variety of personal information, sometimes even bank accounts.
This tactic is so common that the Federal Trade Commission gets about 400,000 complaints about such calls per day. This only increases towards the beginning of a new year, as tax season approaches (though the scammers by no means refine their activity to any particular time of year). Worse, these robocalls seem to update their tactics every year, forcing consumers to stay vigilant.
The key to protecting yourself from this scam is simple: hang up and do not give out any information over the phone. The IRS communicates with taxpayers by mail delivery—never over the phone. So any call from the so-called IRS can immediately be identified as fake no matter how official or scary they might try to sound.
A new category of scam phone calls are those that offer to help people choose health insurance plans or fill out complicated health insurance paperwork… for a fee. These calls are almost always against the law, but billions of such calls are made in the months that coincide with the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period.
Not only do these scammers collect “fees” for their work, but they can also collect personal information for identity theft purposes. If you’re having trouble choosing insurance, there are almost always nonprofit entities that can help you navigate the exchange and select a plan (although this depends on the state in which you live).
One of the reasons that these scams have become harder to prevent is because of a new technology known as ID spoofing, or neighborhood spoofing. Essentially, a scammer will use technology that makes it appear as though the phone number calling a victim is a local phone number, usually with a closely associated area code.
This effectively makes the scam phone call look more local and more trustworthy, lending a dangerous credibility to whatever scheme the scammer is running. There are some apps that can effectively block spam and scam phone numbers, such as YouMail and Nomorobo, but even those apps will not block every instance.
Protect Your Information
District Attorneys across the United States have requested more resources from the federal government to help combat the rise in Robocall scams (the FTC employs only 43 people to combat robocalls). That’s why the FCC and FTC both recommend that consumers take several steps to protect themselves. For example, it’s wise to never give out any of your personal information to an inbound phone call—especially related to the IRS or to your health.
Assume these calls are scams, even if they come from a friendly-looking phone number. Contrary to popular belief, people of all ages can fall victim to these types of new Robocall scams. Your best defense, no matter your age, is to stay informed and stay vigilant.
Have you been affected by any of the new Robocall Scams? If so, let us know! Shoot us an email to Outreach@