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Phone Scams Are Getting Worse—How to Protect Yourself

If you're plagued by robo calls, here are some things you can do

With just three months left in 2021, Americans have reported an estimated $325 million in financial losses due to robocalls. This represents more than 25% of the $1 billion in total reported fraud losses across all contact methods according to RoboKiller, a spam call and SMS blocker app.

Car warranty scams are expected to be the largest phone scam for 2021, knocking the 2020 leaders of Social Security and IRS scams out of the top spot. Robokiller says these early trends indicate that reported financial losses are on track to increase by 40% in 2021. In their 2021 report, Robokiller found an alarming increase of not only robo calls but also people falling victim to scammers. 

If you would like to avoid being part of that 40% and get less robocalls, there are some things you can do.

  • Look out for emails and text messages with URLs that contain misspelled words or a combination of numbers and letters. If the URL doesn’t look right, don’t click it. The URL could install malware onto your computer or smartphone.
  • Don’t answer the phone to unknown callers, especially those who call at odd hours. You shouldn’t follow any requested call or text prompts.
  • Never provide personal information to unknown callers.
  • Consider downloading a spam call and SMS blocker app to prevent calls from reaching you.

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If you fall victim to a scam here are some things to do immediately.

  • Start with reporting the scam to the FTC. According to the FTC, if you received a robocall trying to sell you something and you haven’t give the caller your written permission, it is an illegal call. 
  • Contact your bank or credit card company right away and tell them you’ve been a victim of a scam. 
  • Change your password associated with the compromised account. If you use that password elsewhere, change it on those accounts as well. You can also register on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Texas, California and Florida are the states that top the list for the most projected robocallers. RoboKiller believes that spam texts have the potential to become the next robocall problem if consumers don’t take measures to stop scammers. And as technology keeps developing and using new media and methods to communicate digitally, scammers will keep coming up with new ways to steal from unsuspecting consumers.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her money saving tips and ways to give back on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at JeanettePavini.com.