Annoying Robocalls And Related Scams Are On the Rise — Here’s How To Protect Yourself

Robocalls and related scams continue to skyrocket, so here is some advice to follow to keep you from falling victim to them. 

Mike LichtFlickr

If you’ve ever rushed to get out of the shower to answer a ringing phone that has a robocaller at the end, you most likely know that it wasn’t the shampoo in your eyes that was irritating you. In fact, it was a recording of “Emily” or some other bubbly headset-wearing woman that infuriated you more and more as you continued to listen.

And when you answered the line for the first time when you received a robocall, the call probably went like this, “Hello…..Oh hi there…..Oh I am so sorry about that, I was having a little problem with my headset! Anyway, my name is Emily.”

What’s worse, is that when you took the call you probably thought it was a real person making the call and not a recording. You thought to yourself, “Who is Emily, and what does she want?”

Unfortunately, Emily isn’t alive; she’s a robocall recording. And she doesn’t want anything from you. Those listening in; however, do. Among other things, robocalls are designed to get you to say the word “yes.”

In the time that you listened in on the phone to robocaller Emily, you probably pictured in your mind a bubblegum-chewing twit playfully twirling her hair around her fingers while she giggled and talked to you. Although she sounded nice, she probably ruined your mood, as well. You most likely didn’t know it at the time, but you were subjected to the “Can You Hear Me” automated robocall scam.

Automated robocall scams such as these are on the rise, reaching an estimated 3.4 billion in April, according to the New York Times. What’s more, you don’t want to be snared by the shady businesses that participate in robocall scams.

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Millions of people in the United States during the last six years have answered their landline and were greeted by the original robocalling lady, Rachel, from “card services.” Landlines are now on the decline so Rachel was slowly replaced by Emily, who mostly calls cell phones.

Usually, Emily and her ilk try to get the person on the other line to say the word “yes.” Robocalls usually don’t get that far because the phone is often slammed down in fury once the recipient realizes they are talking to a recording and being hustled.

On the other hand, for those of you that did answer the robocaller’s appeal for the word, don’t worry. Most of the time there doesn’t seem to be any harm in only saying “yes” to the robocaller. Callers would have to give away their social security number or credit card information in order for any unauthorized charges to happen, according to the fact-checking site, Snopes.

But be cautious because there are nefarious people listening in and waiting in the wings to get your personal information once the robocall message is complete or they get you to answer “yes.” You will need to be careful about giving them this precious information. If you get the robocall, don’t even answer “yes,” “okay,” or “all right,” to anyone. Just hang up.

Are you wondering what happens if the robocaller convinced you to say yes and you stayed on the line? Well, ScamDetector reports that if you answered yes to the robocaller, you are then transferred to someone who will then attempt to dupe you under the guise of selling you a vacation or other services. The person at the end of the line will then ask you a series of questions designed to get your personal information.

If you give away this information during robocalls, then the “yes” response can be used as a voice signature, detective Timothy Lohman tells the product review site, Highya. Lohman solves crimes related to finances, fraud, and forgery.

“Companies will legitimately use this to show that you have agreed to a service, change or upgrade. However, the scammer will record your ‘yes’ response, which allows them to authorize unwanted upgrades or services.”

Screening your calls and burying your head in the sand is not the answer to stopping frequent robocalls, either. You shouldn’t be a prisoner in your own home when it comes to taking calls. Furthermore, the unrecognized call you are ignoring may be related to an emergency situation involving someone close to you. That being said, your first line of defense against robocalls is to register at the National Do Not Call Registry. Keep in mind robocalls may continue, even after you do this. NBC26 reports that another option is to block robocalls with apps such as Privacy Star, NoMoRobo, Calls Blacklist, or Mr, Number.