Kelvin Collins

Kelvin Collins

You’ve likely received a robocall before. A recorded voice offers you an unbeatable deal or claims to be someone they are not. In a new twist, scammers are using hotly debated political issues to grab your attention. These con artists take advantage of buzzy, emotionally charged news stories to trick unsuspecting consumers into falling for a scam.

Here’s how the scam works. You receive a robocall and answer the phone. A recorded voice – perhaps even one that sounds just like President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi or other prominent politician – explains the purpose of the call. According to reports to BBB Scamtracker, COVID-19 and recent protests are currently popular topics for these calls. As the 2020 election campaign heats up, other topics will undoubtedly be used as “bait” to grab your interest.

If you offer to donate, your money won’t go to support the political cause. Instead, the phony caller will make off with your money… and your personal information that can be used for identity theft.

How to Avoid Robocall Scams

Screen your calls. If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer. Even if the number looks familiar, be wary. Check the number online to see if it’s been flagged with a fraud alert.

Don’t respond to unsolicited calls. If you receive an unsolicited call that seems to come from a legitimate business, be cautious. Scammers can fake caller ID, and businesses are only allowed to call you if you give them permission. If someone is calling you out of the blue, it’s most likely a scam. Best practice is to hang up the phone without interacting with the caller. Don’t “press 1 to be removed from our list;” that just confirms to the scammer that your number is good and will likely result in more calls in the future.

Register with the Do Not Call Registry. This step won’t prevent scammers from calling you, but it will reduce the number of legitimate marketing calls you receive, which will make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones. If you live in the US, call 888-382-1222or register online at donotcall.gov.

To learn more about how to avoid robocall scams, read BBB.org/RoboCall. If you’ve been the victim of a robocall scam, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so, you can help others protect themselves from falling prey to similar scams. Learn more about scams at BBB.org/ScamTips and learn how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.

Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB by phone at 800-763-4222, online at bbb.org or email info@centralgeorgia.bbb.org.