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Could you imagine making 4.6 billion calls in a month?
That's how many robocalls Americans received in February this year. And when your phone is ringing endlessly with scammers asking about your car's warranty, a free cruise, or even a scary warning about your insurance coverage, it can definitely seem like all the calls are going to you. So what do you do when you get one of these fake calls and how do you protect your personal information and money from cons? Here are the important steps to take.
1. Don't Talk to Them
Hang up the phone if you get a strange call offering a free product, asking for a payment of some kind or wanting some personal information. Do not give any information to them and do not accept anything. Even if they insist you only have a limited time to act or you may be arrested if you don't do what they say, this is not true. No legitimate business would require this of you. If you are unsure if the call is real or fake, search the business name online for any reviews or other information on them.
2. Block Future Unwanted Calls
Set up defenses so these scammers can't reach you in the first place. Here are a few options:
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. This blocks unwanted sales calls from reaching you. However, scammers may still get through.
- Download a call blocking app on your cell phone to stop scam calls. You can search online for expert reviews on the best ones, or take a look at https://www.ctia.org/, a website for the U.S. wireless communications industry. The apps let you decide what to do (such as hang up on unknown calls or only block calls from certain numbers or locations).
3. Report the Call or Scam to Authorities
If you didn't give or receive anything from the scammers and want to report the call, complete a form here to alert the Federal Trade Commission.
1. Contact the Bank or Credit Card
Immediately call your bank or credit card — or wherever the money came from — and tell them you've been scammed. They can help you stop the payment and get your money back if that's possible. They can also help you protect your money from further fraud.
2. Protect Your Identity
The FTC can also help you watch for any identity theft with your personal information. Click here to tell them what happened and get a personalized plan to protect yourself and monitor your information.
If you gave access to your computer or revealed usernames and passwords to any accounts, immediately update your computer's security system and perform a sweep for any harmful programs or data on your computer. And then change any usernames and passwords that were discussed.