‘Can you hear me?’ robocalls put consumers on alert [infographic]

Robocallers are intrusive and often illegal. Learn how to stop them.

I fell for it the first time I answered a call. A friendly female voice hesitated, then giggled the line, “Can you hear me?” After I answered, “Yes”, it took me a few seconds to realize I had been fooled. It wasn’t a silly girl with a bad connection calling me on behalf of Disney Vacations – I had just been targeted by a robocaller. By then it was too late.

So many others have fallen for the sneaky pre-recorded phone scam, that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Consumer Alert on Monday. They warned if you say “yes” during the call, a recording of your response could be used to authorize unwanted charges on your utility or credit card account.

Press reports from the UK say that the scam will hop across the pond “imminently”, and are educating people about the tactic.

What to do if you said YES

The FCC recommends that you monitor all your credit card and telephone statements for unauthorized charges if, like me, you got fooled. If you receive a scam call, write down the number, and report the it to the FCC Consumer Help Center and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.

Do Not Call Registry

Labeling robocalls the “scourge of civilization”, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a post last week, “American consumers received an estimated 29 billion of them in 2016. That’s about 230 calls for every U.S. household”.

The U.S.’s consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a free service called the Do Not Call Registry. You can add your number but you still may receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and telephone survey calls. As Tony Anscombe pointed out in the blog post about IRS phone scams, companies that make robocalls don’t play by the rules.

Call blocker technology

Since the registry doesn’t always work, the FCC also recommends using robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls. Avast Call Blocker can either warn you about spam before you answer, or block calls automatically. Avast Call Blocker is available on iTunes.

Install Avast Call Blocker from iTunes

A recent Avast study shows that in the last 30 days there were 4.3 million unwanted calls made, and 77 percent of people surveyed received an unsolicited call in the last 2 weeks. A combination of education, prevention like Call Blocker, and reporting the scam will help eliminate this nuisance.



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