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ROBOCALLS AND DEBT SCAMS? HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

How many times a day do you get calls from unknown numbers? Do you ever pick them up?

You may think it’s a legitimate call, but on most occasions, these random calls are associated with telemarketers and financial scams that put you at risk of having your personal and financial information stolen. Spammers can falsify the information that is displayed on your caller ID and can make the phone number appear as a local call. These robocalls, or prerecorded messages, use a computerized autodialer to make a phone call that can be masqueraded as a creditor, bank and even the government. Some types of robocalls are legitimate and legally approved by the FTC, such as school cancellations, prescription reminders from your pharmacy, and medical appointment reminders. But most of the time, these calls are not legal or legitimate and consumers nationwide are being targeted each day. According to YouMail, Americans were hit with 3.4 billion robocalls in April, and Miami, FL was listed at number 17 on the top 20 affected area codes nationwide.

So what can you do to stop these robocalls?

First of all, let unrecognized numbers leave you a voicemail. If it’s important, they’ll leave you a message.

If you do happen to answer the phone, hang up immediately. Do not press a key or give any verbal commands as it can let the caller know your number is active.

If you haven’t done so already, register your number in the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. Your home or mobile number can be registered for free and once your number has been on the registry for 31 days, most telemarketers should not call. To register your phone number click here: https://www.donotcall.gov

If you have been on the Do Not Call Registry for over a month and are still receiving unsolicited calls, please file a complaint with the FTC here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ #crnt&panel1-1

I also recommend signing up to the FTC’s scam alerts. You can receive notifications by email to stay up to date with the latest information from the nation’s consumer protection agency. Sign up for scam alerts and learn more about recent scams here: https:// www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also has information on what you can do to stop unwanted calls and texts. The FCC states that “your written or oral consent is required for all autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts made to your wireless number”. They recommend asking your phone company about robocall-blocking technology. All major wireless carriers now have apps to stop spam calls and most are included with your plan.

Now, let’s talk about those pesky debt collector calls!

Many consumers have reported receiving calls from people pretending to collect money for debts they do not owe. Don’t get tricked into these schemes that will lure you into making payments or give out sensitive information.

Remember, any time you are dealing with debt collectors, do not verify any information over the phone, including your name. Tell them that you want to deal with everything in writing and ask them to send you a debt validation letter. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) consumers can demand that a creditor reporting information to the credit bureaus proves the account is your responsibility, the balance is accurate, and that the collection agency has legal right to collect the debt.

Do not or give out or “confirm” any information over the phone such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers or social security number. It’s very easy for scammers to trick you into believing that you owe a debt and will make attempts to collect payment from you. This is also an easy way to become a victim of identity theft. I encourage you to check your credit reports regularly and make sure that all of the accounts reporting are accurate.

Even though the robocall scams are surging, as consumers there is a lot we can do to protect ourselves and stay informed. I am hopeful that we will eventually find a solution to these pesky calls!

Check out this video from the Jay Lobos YouTube channel where we talk more about robocalls, phone scams and fake debt collection schemes:

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