By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that at least half the calls & texts that come in on my cellphone every day are spam. It turns out I’m not alone. In 2019, more than 63 billion spam calls were received by Americans. This resulted in 43 million consumers being scammed for $10.5 billion. While the statistics for 2020 have yet to be released, you can be assured that as a result of COVID-19, the numbers are only going to go up. If you’re sick and tired of receiving spam calls, texts and emails, here are some helpful tips.
What can you do to stop spam calls?
While you’ll never be able to stop them, there are a number of ways to slow spam calls down whether you use an Android or an iPhone:
- Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. This will slow spam calls down to a degree. https://www.donotcall.gov/
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. Even a call from a local number could be a robocall. Let any suspect call go to voicemail before verifying who made it.
- If you do answer a spam call, don’t respond to any questions, especially those that require you to verify information such as your social security number, account number, password, mother’s maiden name, or any other sensitive information.
- If you answer a call that tells you to hit a button to stop receiving unwanted calls, simply hang up. By responding, you’ll only be telling the spammers that your phone number is valid which will ramp up the number of bogus calls you receive.
- If you determine the call was spam, don’t call the number back. Block the number on your phone. By responding you’ll only verify that the number is valid and can expect many more spam calls.
- If the message purports to come from a trusted company such as your bank or credit card company, do not call the number provided. Instead, look up the company phone number to verify that the call is legitimate.
- If the message purports to come from a government agency like the IRS or Social Security, don’t believe it. Neither of these agencies will call you until they first send you information via snail mail.
- If the spam calls and/or text messages persist, call your cellphone provider to inquire about the call blocking tools they offer. You can also surf the web to find call blocking apps for your cellphone.
- Make sure you reset the password on your voicemail. If you keep the default password that was issued when you set up your account, you could allow hackers to spoof your number to gain access to your voicemail.
- Don’t waste your time reporting spam calls to the government. Since spamming is an international problem, there isn’t a thing they can do about it.
- Be particularly vigilant during holidays or after major catastrophes. Cybercriminals ramp up robocalls and emails looking for likely victims after anything that’s newsworthy.
When did email turn into an e-menace?
Image courtesy Pixabay
Email has been around for more than 40 years. Back in 1978, the number of spam emails sent worldwide was less than 1,000. Today, more than half of all email worldwide is considered spam. Even though spammers only receive on average one reply for every 12,500,000 emails sent, they still earn an average of $7,000 per day due to the fact that more than 14 billion spam messages get sent every day. Whether the spammer is trying to sell you something or scam you is immaterial. The motive is the same. It’s all about making money. Since an email can originate from anywhere in the world, there is little that can be done to stop spam. That means the onus us on you to make the spammers job harder. Here’s what you can do to slow the flow of spam to your account.
- Don’t broadcast your email address to the world. If your website has your email address listed on the homepage or contact page, remove it since bots can read and report your email address. Limit the number of online subscriptions you make and unsubscribe to any you no longer wish to receive.
- Set up spam filters. Every email service on the planet offers filters that can be used to slow the flow of spam. If you haven’t activated one yet, now is the time.
- Never respond to a spam email, not even to unsubscribe. All this will do is tell the spammer that they have a live fish on the hook.
- Never respond to email offers or clickbait. Phishing is the process of using bogus emails, banner ads, and fake news to reel in those fish unlucky enough to fall for the scam. If an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Don’t fall for bogus emails from trusted sources such as department stores, credit card providers, and service providers. By clicking on a link or responding to a bogus toll-free number, you could be opening yourself up to a world of hurt. Spammers will do everything in their power to seem legitimate, even going to the length of creating clone websites that look identical to the real thing. If you get an email from a business, do yourself a favor and call customer service before you fall into the bad guys hands.
- If an email has spelling or grammatical errors, it’s guaranteed to be fake. Since many spammers are located overseas, English isn’t their first language.
- Never click on a link or an attachment. Not even if it appears to come from a friend or relative. Once a hacker breaks into an account, the first thing they do is rifle the contacts and send out bogus emails to everyone known to the victim. If you receive an attachment from a trusted friend or family member, call to confirm they sent it to you before you wind up with malware or ransomware on your system.
- Don’t assume the feds are going to come to the rescue. Since phishing is an international menace, there isn’t much the FBI can do about it.
- If the spam persists, consider getting a new email address. It’s easier to start from scratch than to try to clean up the mess after the fact.
- If you own a business, consider getting cyber liability insurance. This way if your computers are compromised, your bottom line won’t tank while you labor to get control of your system and deal with the fallout from a hack or a ransomware attack.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/