Unsolicited robocalls are a huge problem. Not only are they nuisances, illegal robocalls aid scammers in stealing countless dollars from small businesses. While the schemes very, the goal is the same—to con unsuspecting victims out of their money. Here is some information to help identify robocall scams and ways to protect your business.
What is a Robocall?
Robocalls are prerecorded messages that play when you answer a phone call. Instead of a live person, an automatic script plays, typically a scam offer. Advances in technology have helped scammers amp up their efforts to spread their money-grubbing schemes. With the use of autodialers, thousands of calls can be made every minute.
Robocalls Threaten Small Businesses
Businesses report receiving threatening messages claiming they will lose their website, Internet ranking, trademark, business license, social media networks, and more. The con artists use robocalls to get the business to make a selection or call a number where they are transferred to a live person who then starts their shady sales pitch.
Recently, Florida-based Pointbreak Media’s massive robocall operation was shut down after they robocalled more than 74 million small businesses. The robocalls threaten to remove their listing from Google search results and/or label them as “Permanently Closed” unless the owner paid a one-time fee ranging from $300 to $700 to “claim and verify” their business. If the owner paid, they made follow-up sales calls to pitch other programs guaranteeing top search result placement or exclusive keywords for a one-time payment of $949.99 and recurring monthly payments of $99.99 or $169.99. All of the promises were bogus and an elaborate scheme to con small business owners. Businesses can access their listing and complete verification for free.
Similarly, businesses receive robocalls to verify their online maps listings. Owners are asked for personal and business information to continue their maps listing, but the truth is the crooks use the information to hit the businesses account.
Robocall scammers also disguise themselves as government officials, law enforcement, or major companies threatening to take action against you unless you pay some made-up debt. Legitimate companies, law enforcement, and government agencies do not operate in this way. Scammers also impersonate charities and public assistance organizations in their robocall cons.
Fighting Back Against Roboscams
While the robocall message may vary, the main goal is to get into your wallet or obtain personal and financial information. But there are ways to protect yourself and your business. Communication is one of the most important ways to stop robocalls and the damage they can do to a business. The first step is to cut communication with the scammer by hanging up on robocalls. Second, communicate with your employees, fellow business operators, and social and professional networks about these types of scams.
Other ways to fight robocalls:
Ignore calls from unknown or unfamiliar numbers.
If the recording asks you to hit a button to stop calls, don’t. Simply hang up.
Utilize call blocking technology and apps to help avoid robocalls. A list of call-blocking apps for Android and Apple phones are available on the U.S. wireless communications industry website, ctia.org.
Contact your phone provider to block unwanted calls. Company-specific information about blocking calls on landlines and phones that use the Internet can be found on fcc.gov.
Protect your personal information. Never give your social security number, financial information, account information, password, or other information to unsolicited callers or anyone you have not checked out thoroughly.
Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics or threats.
Be cautious of spoofed numbers. Scammers use methods to disguise their phone numbers and make it appear that calls are coming from government agencies or other official entities. If in doubt, call the official number of the agency or company to confirm the request.
Register your number on the National Do Not Call List.
Robocalls can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. If you have been scammed or have a problem with a business, let BCA assist you with filing a complaint. Make sure to share this article with others now to help fight robocalls.