What can I do to crack down on robocalls?
Provided By: Duane J. Silbernagel, CFP®
You may not mind if a legitimate robocall provides a helpful announcement from your child’s school or an appointment reminder from a doctor’s office. But sadly, criminals often use robocalls to collect consumers’ personal information and/or conduct various scams. Newer “spoofing” technology displays fake numbers to make it look as though calls are local, rather than coming from overseas, which could trick more people into answering the phone.
Robocalls have been illegal since 2009 (unless the telemarketer has the consumer’s prior consent). In mid-2017, federal agencies announced they are ramping up enforcement by fining violators and encouraging blocking technologies. What should you do if you want to help put an end to this nuisance?
1. Don’t answer calls when you don’t recognize the phone number. If you pick up an unwanted robocall, just hang up. Don’t answer “yes” or “no” questions, provide personal information, or press a number to “opt out.” Responding to the call in any way verifies that it has reached a real number and could prompt additional calls.
2. Look into robocall blocking solutions that may be offered by your phone service provider. If they’re available, you may need to follow specific instructions to “opt in.” Otherwise, consider a mobile app or cloud-based service designed to block robocalls; some of them are free or cost just a few dollars.
3. Consider registering your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. While taking this step can help mitigate the amount of robocalls you receive, it’s only a partial solution to the problem. The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers whose numbers are on the registry but still receive unwanted calls to report robocall violations at complaints.donotcall.gov. The phone numbers provided by consumers will be released each day to companies that are working on call-blocking technologies, which largely depend on “blacklists” with numbers associated with multiple complaints.
How can I protect myself from digital deception?
Imagine that you receive an email with an urgent message asking you to verify your banking information by clicking on a link. Or maybe you get an enticing text message claiming that you’ve won a free vacation to the destination of your choice — all you have to do is click on the link you were sent. In both scenarios, clicking on the link causes you to play right into the hands of a cybercriminal seeking your sensitive information. Just like that, you’re at risk for identity theft because you were tricked by a social engineering scam.
Social engineering attacks are a form of digital deception in which cybercriminals psychologically manipulate victims into divulging sensitive information. Cybercriminals “engineer” believable scenarios designed to evoke an emotional response (curiosity, fear, empathy, or excitement) from their targets. As a result, people often react without thinking first due to curiosity or concern over the message that was sent. Since social engineering attacks appear in many forms and appeal to a variety of emotions, they can be especially difficult to identify.
Take steps to protect yourself from a social engineering scam. If you receive a message conveying a sense of urgency, slow down and read it carefully before reacting. Don’t click on suspicious or unfamiliar links in emails, text messages, and instant messaging services. Hover your cursor over a link before clicking on it to see if it will bring you to a real URL. Don’t forget to check the spelling of URLs — any mistakes indicate a scam website. Also be sure to look for the secure lock symbol and the letters https: in the address bar of your Internet browser. These are signs that you’re navigating to a legitimate website.
Never download email attachments unless you can verify that the sender is legitimate. Similarly, don’t send money to charities or organizations that request help unless you can follow up directly with the charitable group.
Be wary of unsolicited messages. If you get an email or a text that asks you for financial information or passwords, do not reply — delete it. Remember that social engineering scams can also be used over the phone. Use healthy skepticism when you receive calls that demand money or request sensitive information. Always be vigilant and think before acting.
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Duane Silbernagel is a Financial Advisor in Lincoln City, Oregon offering securities through Waddell & Reed, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. He can be reached at (541) 614-1322 or via email at DSilbernagel@wradvisors.com.
This article is meant to be general in nature and should not be construed as investment or financial advice related to your personal situation. The article was written by an independent third party, Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. (Copyright 2017) and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Waddell& Reed is not affiliated with www.newslincolncounty.com website and is not responsible for any other content posted to this website. (01/18)