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Robocalls are simply prerecorded messages; they’ve been in use for a long time, for valid reasons. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), robocalls are acceptable for purposes such as “to let you know your flight’s been canceled, reminders about an appointment, or messages about a delayed school opening.” However, the FTC strictly forbids businesses calling people to “promote the sale of any goods or services.” So why are so many spam and scam calls happening these days?

“Spoofing,” is a process where a caller ensures that their number shows up differently on caller ID.

For starters, it’s become much easier, thanks to technological advances. Telemarketers are no longer bound by landlines; voice over IP (VoIP) services have enabled telemarketers to spit out a deluge of calls, rolling down the list through every number they can find, with little effort or cost.

If you answer one of these calls, a few things could happen. A prerecorded message might play, offering you fabulous prizes like a free vacation, or an attractive service like reducing the interest rates on a credit card, inviting you to press a number and speak to a live operator. They could also take a more sinister approach, impersonating law enforcement and scaring you into paying them. Although these scams may seem ridiculous, they can work

The aggressive nature of the call can make people panic, and often scammers will have information on their target (like a home address) to make the call seem more legitimate. Given that individual scammers can cheaply make hundreds or even thousands of calls a day, they only need relatively few people to bite.

Spoofing: Phone numbers in disguise

One of the strangest things you may have noticed about robocalls is that they come from numbers that look a lot like your own. The area code and even the first three digits might match yours, leading you to think you’re getting a call from someone nearby, like a local business or coworker. Then you answer, only to hear a prerecorded message or human scammer on the other end.

robocalls and spoofing

Lastly, while it may seem fun to answer and mess with the scammer on the other end — there are a few videos on YouTube of people doing this — it can cause more problems than it’s worth. For one thing, merely by answering, you’re letting the caller know that your number belongs to someone who is willing to answer, which could lead to more calls down the line. Even worse, there are scams in which the caller tries to get victims to answer questions, recording their voice when they answer. The scammer then uses the victim’s voice signature to “to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone.” The best way to avoid getting scammed is not to talk to the scammers at all.

If you need some help to stop robocalls, call our office at 718-674-1245 or sign up here.


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