Understanding Robocall Scams
Robocall scams have become a significant issue in the United States, with scammers using automated calls to trick unsuspecting individuals. These scams often involve pre-recorded messages and are designed to steal money or personal information.
Variants of Robocall Scams
There are several variants of robocall scams, each with its unique approach to defrauding victims. Some common types include:
- Auto Warranty Scams: The scammer pretends to offer an extension on the victim's auto warranty.
- Amazon Suspicious Charge Scams: The scammer impersonates Amazon and claims there are suspicious charges on the victim's account.
- Social Security Administration Scams: The scammer pretends to be from the Social Security Administration and claims there's a law enforcement action against the victim.
- Apple Tech Support Scams: The scammer pretends to be from Apple tech support.
- Utility Company Impersonator Scams: The scammer pretends to be the victim's utility company and offers a rebate.
- Student Loan Debt Relief Scams: The scammer claims to offer relief for student loan borrowers.
How Robocall Scams Operate
Robocall scams typically involve several steps:
- Buying Lead Lists: Scammers purchase phone numbers from brokers, some of whom may operate illegitimately.
- Getting a Phone Provider: Despite efforts to crack down on robocalls, some small phone companies still accept money from scammers and place calls into the phone network.
- Running Computer Software: A computer program dials numbers in a loop, attaching a spoofed phone number to each call. This makes it appear as if the call is coming from a number within the recipient's area code.
- Operating a Phone Bank: Once a victim responds to a robocall, the call is patched through to a person in a call center who then attempts to defraud the victim.
- Managing Money: Incoming payments from victims are quickly transferred to other forms of money to make them more difficult to trace.
Example of a Robocall Scam
A notable example of a robocall scam involved call centers based in India. In February 2022, multiple India-based call centers and their directors were indicted for perpetuating phone scams by the US Department of Justice. One of the major players was a VoIP provider named E Sampark, and its Director, Guarav Gupta, who were indicted for forwarding tens of millions of scam calls to American consumers. In another instance, 65 people were arrested in Delhi, India, who allegedly operated a call center aimed at extorting U.S. citizens. The callers allegedly pretended to be U.S. officials. These scams often involve operators impersonating officials from various organizations and demanding payments or personal information from the victims. The money is usually asked to be wired or transferred through prepaid cards. Once the money is transferred, it is quickly laundered to make it difficult to trace.
How to Avoid Robocall Scams
There are several strategies for avoiding robocall scams:
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
- If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- Be aware that caller ID showing a local number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
- Use call-blocking options, such as apps and services that screen calls and weed out spam and scams.
- Verify the caller. If the robocall claims to be from an entity like Social Security or your bank, hang up.
Reporting Robocall Scams
Reporting robocall scams helps protect our community. You can report these scams on Findwhocallsyou.com, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission at DoNotCall.gov. Your reports help take action against scammers and illegal robocallers.