Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls

The other day, I got an interesing voicemail message on my phone.

Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls!
Stop Telemarketers and Scam Calls!

I noticed my phone was ringing, but I have stopped answering when I don't recognize the number since I get calls from so many telemarketers.  I even double checked to make sure that my number is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.  It is, but sometimes telemarketers call anyway.

Since this call was from a "866" number, I was pretty sure it was a telemarketer, and I was pretty sure they wouldn't leave a message.  But they did.

The message was a voice synthesizer that read a message.  It said that my Windows license on my computer was expiring soon and that I should call the toll free number to renew it.

I decided to get right on that.  Of course I wasn't going to call and pay to renew my Windows license- this was obviously a scam.

I'm pretty sure the scam involves convincing people that their computer is about to become a useless paperweight unless they give their credit card number over the phone and pay $99 (or who knows how much) to renew their Windows license.  Windows licenses don't expire like that, and I'm sure the folks calling have no idea who I am or what kind of computer I have.

I mentioned the call to my son and he was pretty excited about giving them a call to find out more about the scam and to give them a hard time if possible.  My son gives me a hard time sometimes, and he likes me.  If I were a telemarketer, I wouldn't want to get a call from him...

We went in my son's room and closed the door.  We put the phone on speakerphone and set up another phone with a voice recorder app to record both sides of the conversation.  We talked about maybe saying we have a Mac or Linux computer and seeing if they would still try to take our money for a "Windows license renewal".

With the recorder rolling, we dialed the number from the scam voicemail.  But the toll free number in the spam message had already been disconnected.  This scam was so blatent that it must have been busted quickly.

Since I wasn't able to bust this scammer myself, I thought I would at least publish some tips to help everyone avoid phone scams.  This is my way of giving him a hard time since I couldn't reach him on the phone...

Here are some tips on cutting down on scam calls and telemarketers:

  • Register your number on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) National Do Not Call Registry.  This doesn't stop all telemarketing calls, but I think it cuts down the number of calls significantly since it is illegal for telemarketers to call if you are on the Do Not Call List.
  • If you do get a junk call, tell them to put you on their do not call list and hang up.
  • If you don't recognize the number of an incoming call, let it go to voicemail.  Most telemarketers don't bother to leave a message.
  • If you aren't sure whether a call is legitimate or not ask the caller to send their offer or request to you in the mail.

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