Beware Holiday Robocall Scams

Unknown Caller

Robocalls are so universally hated that the United States House of Representatives (a group not known for their bipartisan approach to legislating) passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED) 417-3. I am wondering what the three representatives who did not vote in favor of the bill like about robocalls…

The good news is that is it expected to pass in the Senate, and then carriers will have 18 months to install the required technology and offer the service free of charge.

The bad news is that this holiday season, robocallers are armed with more than your phone number. There have been so many big data breaches that it is hard to keep track of them all. Major retailers, credit reporting bureaus, and even a few financial services companies have all been in the news over the past year or so.

A large quantity of the hacked data is available on the (ominously named) dark web. Except it’s not that dark, and it’s really easy to find. Scammers use this data to enrich the profiles of potential targets. (“Enriching” a profile is the term of art for adding additional information to make the profile more valuable.)

Armed with additional personal information, you are likely to receive a robocall that sounds much more legitimate. The robocaller may have knowledge of the make and model of your car, an appliance in your home (from the warranty information you submitted), what credit cards you have, what kind of mortgage, etc.

Your best defense, at the moment, is to not answer voice calls. Or, if you do answer, to hang up when you realize that it is a robocall. All legitimate offers are available online, and any problem the robocall suggests you might have can be researched without responding to the robocaller.

This new crop of robocalls is insidious. The bad guys have upped their game. To quote WOPR (aka Joshua, the war-simulating computer from WarGames), “The only winning move is not to play.”


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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

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