Most Americans have at least once received a threatening call from an IRS impersonator, or a call from a fictitious charity organization seeking financial help, or been promised ‘extremely cheap travel packages’. These are some of the most common scams in the U.S. In fact, in 2021, $39.5 billion was lost due to phone scams. The use of unsolicited calls and messages to con people is at an all-time high, and the perpetrators seem to stop at nothing. However, there are tried and tested measures you can take to secure your devices and avoid being part of the worrying statistics.
Here are the top 10 ways to protect yourself from unsolicited texts and calls.
1. Ignore Unsolicited Calls And Messages
One of the most straightforward ways to stop unsolicited calls and messages is to let them be. Once you see a suspicious text message, there is no point in interacting with the sender. Additionally, once you have flagged a number as suspicious, reported it, or marked it as spam, you will never fall for it again. Ignoring a spammer’s texts and calls is a surefire way to secure your phone from scammers.
Blocking can also help cut off unsolicited communication completely. Android phones and iPhones have a free blocking feature that lets you choose who you want to block. As soon as you flag suspicious or unwanted calls and texts, block the phone number quickly and avoid further contact. All modern smartphones have a special feature that lets you divert or prevent suspicious numbers from calling or texting. However, if the same person contacts you using a different phone number, you are always free to blacklist them again.
iPhones also have a feature that filters messages from unknown senders, so the user can only receive notifications from saved contacts.
3. Look Up Identity
The rise in phone scam cases through calls and texts has led to mistrust and cautiousness. Hence, it is not a wonder that many people ignore any communication from unknown callers. However, job offers and emergency claims may lure you into starting a conversation with an unknown person. On the other hand, cases of spoofing and impersonation have become very common.
Subsequently, you can confirm the caller’s identity to verify its legitimacy and avoid getting into trouble. PhoneHistory is a great phone lookup tool you can use to get details of the caller, including their location and address.
4. Avoid Activating Links On Spam Messages
Another trick most phone scammers use to break into their victims’ phones is embedding malicious links in unsuspecting messages. Scammers use this phishing trick, where they steal your private information like passwords and credit card numbers without you knowing it. Phishing poses the danger of losing money, valuable documents, and intellectual property. You also risk other device failures, like apps crushing from downloaded malware. Interacting with suspicious links allows these criminals to make unwanted calls and send unsolicited messages in further attacks.
5. Initiate A Stop
Sometimes unsolicited calls and messages come from genuine businesses. Nonetheless, even genuine businesses’ calls and messages at the wrong time and place can be annoying. Thus, if you do not want to hear long and boring pitches from telemarketers daily, you have the right to tell them to stop. Other businesses send promotional text messages that you can stop by sending the word “STOP”.
Using unsolicited telecommunication to scam people is a growing concern to service providers and government agencies worldwide. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission allows people to report as little as “just an annoying call”. Reporting not only helps secure your devices but also helps investigate criminals who scam other people using the same or different contacts. You can report phone fraud in the U.S. by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
If the unwanted calls or texts are serious security threats, you can report the sender to the police. You can also report spam or suspicious messages and calls to your service provider.
7. Avoid Sharing Personal Contacts On Social Media
Occasionally, phone users report an abnormal increase in unwanted calls or messages in a specific period. Sometimes this happens when you share your contacts on social media groups. For example, posting your phone number in a business social media group makes you an easy target for scammers. Sharing your phone number on social media also opens you up to promotional calls and messages from sales agents and advertisers.
8. Third-Party Apps
You can also enhance your protection against unsolicited messages and calls by taking advantage of third-party apps like Nomorobo and RoboKiller. RoboKiller is an effective app that uses machine learning to guess the caller’s details from unique audio fingerprints. Third-party apps effectively detect and block robocalls, which are the leading consumer complaint according to the Federal Communications Commission. These mobile apps are affordable and compatible with most phones.
9. Change Your Number
If your phone number has become notorious for unsolicited calls and messages, you may have to consider changing your number. If you are always receiving calls and texts from unknown callers, chances are that this number may be exposed to criminal activity, which might be a trend that extends in the future. Also, changing your phone number may be advisable when you are dealing with serious security threats. If you cannot stop the callers from calling you, it is probably safer to avoid them altogether.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 is the primary federal law governing telephone solicitations regulation. TCPA allows consumers to sue robocalls and telemarketers for unsolicited commercial calls, text messages, and emails. Therefore, you can sue a person or entity sending you unwarranted communication.
Our communication devices, especially phones, have been a target of unsolicited communication. Most unwanted calls and texts usually aim at deceiving and scamming phone users. Scammers have invented many tactics to have their way with people’s money. With the high rate of technological growth, we may need to develop even better solutions to protect our devices. Nevertheless, using multiple methods for foolproof protection over any device is essential.