Telemarketers Using Your Phone Number for Spam Calls? How Is That Possible?
Telemarketers have become a real nuisance over recent years. They will ask an endless series of questions and invariably try and sell you something.
Unfortunately, this is a familiar situation to a lot of people. But how did they get your phone number in the first place?
In this article, we’ll tell you how telemarketers find phone numbers to call, if it is legal, and how to prevent it.
Telemarketers have different ways to find numbers to call. Usually, a third party is involved from whom they buy lists of numbers. Anywhere you’ve left your phone number could be a potential source of data for telemarketers.
For example, you’re a registered voter or you’ve applied for credit. Or maybe you’ve provided your phone number when you bought something or entered a contest or donated to charity. These are all big databases that telemarketers could attempt to buy from their owners.
Essentially, anybody can become a victim of telemarketers, especially if the companies are using robocalls. Robocallers aren’t even people; they’re computers programmed to dial random phone numbers, including those that aren’t listed. Although robocalling is a prohibited type of telemarketing, some flout the law. Moreover, political candidates and charities aren’t prohibited from using robocalling.
It is estimated that thousands of individuals lose money to telephone scammers every year, ranging from a few dollars to their whole life savings. Scammers will do everything to gain your trust, including chit-chatting, calling you by your first name, and inquiring about your children. They may pose as a representative of a service (such as the phone or electric provider) or claim to have information on a consumer product you use.
Even though anybody can become the victim of telemarketers, many scammers target certain demographics, such as the elderly or millennials. Falling for their deception tactics not only puts your funds in danger, but also increases your chances of being hounded by telemarketers in the future.
Can Telemarketers Legally Call Using Your Number?
Calling someone else’s phone number as a telemarketer isn’t strictly prohibited. FCC regulations prohibit any person or entity from providing deceptive or inaccurate caller ID information with the aim to deceive, inflict harm, or unjustly gain something of value according to the Truth in Caller ID Act.
However, under this regulation, there is no intention to harm. If it is a legal company, telemarketers can use other people’s numbers. Even if the intention is to hurt or deceive, some call centers are located outside of the United States, making it difficult to regulate or shut them down.
There are a few steps you can take to prevent these annoying calls. You can register for the “Do Not Call List” which will stop sales calls from reaching you. However, it is still possible to receive other calls like calls from political parties, charities, telephone surveys, debt collectors, or informational calls. The list has existed for 15 years and over 200 million numbers have been registered.
The good thing about telemarketing calls is that you can figure out whether they’re telemarketing calls even before you answer the phone. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- The number is unfamiliar to you.
- The first six digits of the phone number are identical to the first six digits of your ten-digit phone number.
- It’s marked as SPAM on your caller ID.
- It’s a call from a city where you just purchased an airline ticket or booked a hotel stay online.
If you decide to answer the phone even if you don’t know the number, count to five silently before saying hello. They’ll probably say something in that time if it’s someone you know. You can respond if you recognize the voice. Robocallers, on the other hand, will hang up if there is no response. There will typically be a second or two of lag time before the person on the other end begins speaking if it is a human telemarketer.
Telemarketers aren’t always eager to identify themselves. However, if you say “hello” and the person on the other end of the line mispronounces your name or addresses you incorrectly, you’re probably talking to a telemarketer. If the person on the other end of the line requests your personal information, it’s most likely a scammer rather than a telemarketer.
The best thing to do if you find yourself in such a situation is to hang up or say that you’re not interested in what they’re offering. You should never confirm the pronunciation or spelling of your name, give out your contact or credit card information, or any element of your social security number. Do not attempt to persuade the person on the other end of the line to add you to any “Do Not Call List.”
Another thing you could do to prevent telemarketers from calling you is to change your voicemail. Reroute all unknown numbers to voicemail and explain on the situation in a brief message. This will prevent the telemarketing company from contacting you again, and your phone number will become less appealing to them.
You could also download an app to block unknown numbers. Using an app to prevent incoming calls from people who aren’t on your contact list is a handy way to stop telemarketers from contacting you. Any unrecognized number will be sent to your voicemail.
Some of these steps will not work immediately, but they will make a difference in the long run. If the telemarketer is repeatedly blocked from reaching you, they will go on to another unfortunate person.
Where Can I Report Unwanted Calls?
If you didn’t lose money and only want to report a call, go to DoNotCall.gov and fill out the simplified reporting form.
Go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov if you’ve been a victim of a phone scam or have information on the firm or scammer who called you.
It’s best if you report the caller’s phone number, the number that displays on your caller ID. Even if you suspect it’s been spoofed or faked, you should report it any number you’re instructed to call back. If possible, include the actual date and time of the call.
Will I Hear Back From the FTC?
Because the FTC receives millions of reports each year, they are unable to reply to each one individually. However, your report is significant. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement organizations examine records in order to identify and prosecute those responsible for unlawful calls and scams.
The FTC also collects the phone numbers you’ve reported and distributes them every business day to assist telecommunications carriers and other industry partners who are developing call-blocking and call-labeling solutions.
Prevention Is Key
Hopefully, the advice outlined in this article will help you to reduce or get rid of telemarketing calls. Keep in mind that it is better not to answer suspicious calls or to direct them to your voicemail than to deal with telemarketers. Also, keep an eye on where you leave your contact information.
If nothing seems to help, you can make a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). According to the head of the agency, it is trying to clamp down on people making unlawful robocalls and fake calls, so any information you submit could be useful. You may file a complaint with their online Consumer Complaint Center.
Have you ever been a victim of telemarketers? What did you do in those situations? Do you have any recommendations? Let us know in the comment section below!