(StatePoint) Spam and scam calls are the #1 complaint to the FCC. Americans were barraged by over 58 billion scam and unwanted robocalls last year, costing them over $10 billion. This year proves things are only getting worse. As the coronavirus began making news, scammers made an estimated one million or more COVID-19 related calls per day to Americans’ smartphones, and they were just getting started. Scammers are poised to prey on consumers’ growing health and financial fears in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Americans have already lost over $80 million to COVID-specific scams this year, with related losses having increased by 70% from May to June, according to the FTC.
It’s important to keep in mind that anyone can fall victim -- the latest research shows that no one is safe. Millennials, a generation of digital natives, are nearly three times as likely to lose money to a scam as seniors, with more than 40% of twenty-somethings admitting they have. Here’s how to protect yourself:
Know the Tactics
Knowing scammers’ tactics can help you avoid being victimized. Scammers often use intimidation tactics to scare consumers into divulging sensitive information over the phone. They also love impersonating government officials. Every year, Tax Day creates another opportunity for scammers to impersonate the IRS.
Harness the Latest Tech
You can stay better protected from getting these calls by using free scam protections available for your mobile phone. All major wireless providers now offer a scam identification or scam blocking service. While some providers require you to have a certain plan or device to get scam protection, T-Mobile recently announced that every customer gets free scam protection, just for being a customer.
The comprehensive set of solutions, called Scam Shield, protects T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint customers through an aggressive campaign designed to:
1. Stop scammers in their tracks with free scam identification and blocking for every customer. All customers receive free scam protection, regardless of device or plan.
2. Give you more information about who’s calling with free, enhanced Caller ID. Scammers spoof your number so it looks familiar. With free Caller ID, you can choose whether or not to answer with more confidence.
3. Protect your personal information with a free second number to keep your personal number personal, free number change if needed and free ID monitoring. Just like you have a spam filter in your email account, now T-Mobile customers, on Magenta and Essentials plans, can get that same ability on their phone with a free second number called T-Mobile PROXY. A free number change offers a clean slate and the opportunity to shake persistent spammers. Free ID monitoring and alerts for 12 months from McAfee will help monitor, protect and restore your identity, if needed. And, T-Mobile’s new Scam Shield app provides a “command center” to activate while Sprint customers now get an upgraded Call Screener app for free.
To learn more, visit T-Mobile.com.
Just Hang Up
Scammers have lots of tricks to get you to answer. Don’t answer names or numbers you don’t recognize. If it’s important they will leave a message. And if they do, don’t call the number they leave. Instead, call the organization back directly using the number listed on their website. Never trust the number provided during the call. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Suspicious calls can be reported to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Be wary of unfamiliar calls that you receive. By knowing what to look for and harnessing the latest technology, you can keep your family safe from would-be scammers.
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