Lately it seems that the daily number of unwanted calls and scam attempts I receive on my cell phone has skyrocketed. This is becoming a nationwide epidemic of annoyance that shows no sign of slowing down. But what can you do to protect yourself and stop the flood of annoying calls? Here are some tips and tricks that I can recommend as a technology professional.
- List your numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov). This doesn’t stop the scammers, but it does cut down on the legitimate sales calls.
- Don’t put your phone number anywhere online. If you are advertising on Nextdoor or Craigslist use their built-in message and email relay systems instead.
- If you do need to list a phone number online, use a Google Voice number (voice.google.com) to forward calls to your cell phone. Google Voice is pretty good at blocking spammers and you can easily block the unwanted callers that do get through.
- If you get unsolicited text messages do not respond! Just block the texter and ignore the message even if they say you can text back to opt out.
- Most cellular service providers have an app or service that will block a LOT of scam calls before they even hit your phone. AT&T Call Protect is a free app from AT&T that works well. Verizon and T-Mobile charge a monthly fee to block known scammers with an add-on service. Contact your provider to ask what they offer.
- You can purchase a phone app like WideProtect, which works to block all calls from a range of area codes. For example, if you are getting unwanted phone calls from the (213) area code this app lets you block them all without having to block each one individually.
- Services like nomorobo.com can filter your landline or cell phone for a small monthly fee.
Sadly, even after doing all this you will still need to be wary about the unsolicited calls you receive. There are a few common scams that people are encountering. Microsoft and Apple are NOT going to call you to warn you that “your computer is infected”. The FBI and the IRS are not going to call you out of the blue either! If you get a call from your bank or credit card hang up, look up their contact number online, and call them directly.
So many of these calls are simply attempts to get you to charge something on your credit card or get you to divulge your account information. If you do find yourself talking to a scammer or unsolicited caller the best thing to do is simply hang up. It may seem rude, but the less you say the better. Hopefully the next call will be from an old friend who wants to take you to lunch!