How to avoid this phone scam

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday June 28th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for ITWorldCanda.com.

 

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Ever get a phone call and no one’s at the other end when you answer? Or there’s a recorded voice speaking in some language that you can’t make out? It may not be a wrong number, according to a security company. Instead, it’s probably a scam. Ethan Garr, a senior vice-president of the mobile anti-spam app Robokiller, told me that the idea is to get curious people to dial back the phone number that appears on their caller ID screen. You don’t realize it, but this goes to an international number that charges you for the minutes you rack up when you’re on the line. The fraudster gets a piece of the charge. Here’s the other part of the scam: You likely only get charged a few dollars for the call, and probably ignore it when you look at your phone bill. But these small charges add up for the fraudster.

This is an old scam, called the “one-ring” con, because often your phone only rings once. A more recent variation is the recorded voice that talks in some sort of foreign language. But again, the idea is you get curious, you want to stop getting this call, so you look at the incoming number on your screen and dial it.

The best advice for stopping this is hang up and don’t return the call. And tell your friends about this scam and tell them not to call back either. Instead, report the phone number to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in Canada, or in the U.S. to the Federal Trade Commission. Also tell your phone company. Both countries have Do Not Call lists, but these lists usually are honored only by reputable telemarketers. If you get repeated calls from the same number your smartphone will have a way to block that number by taping on an icon next to the number or opening a menu.

Smartphone users can also consider installing an app that can help stop robotic calls. These include Robokiller, Hiya Caller, Nomorobo or Truecaller. There’s a review of these apps on the PC Magazine web site. There’s a link to it here.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. I can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening. I’m Howard Solomon



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