Carla has noticed that she is getting daily calls on her cell phone from callers she doesn’t know. Many times these are from locations in far-off states. Sometimes a message appears allowing her to “Accept” or “Decline” these calls. Unless she recognized the number, she always selects “Decline.” However, some of the calls come with a message that says, “Reminder.” Confused about this message, Carla has decided not to pick up, assuming if the call were legit, the caller would leave a voicemail. What more can Carla do to protect herself against scam calls to her mobile phone?

First Orion, a scam protection company, predicts that almost half of mobile calls in 2019 will be scams. This prediction was reported both in AARP Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 9, November, 2018, and in an October 12, 2018, posting by the financial information website, MarketWatch.  

MarketWatch suggests using the following protective measures against scam calls:

Register your number with the free National Do Not Call Registry. You can find this online at donotcall.gov or by calling 1.800.382.1222. Do not pick up the call. Do as Carla has done and let the call go to voicemail. Many scam callers will not leave a message. Never say “yes” or give any personal information to the voice message. If you answer at all, to any question, ask, “Why do you need this information?” If the call seems questionable, the sooner you hang up the better. Know that Social Security or DMV are not calling you. Hang up immediately if the caller claims to be from either SSA or DMV. These agencies will never call you unless you have called them first and you have requested or been told you will get a call back. Do not talk to callers claiming to be a bank, debt collector, credit or debit card collector, student loan office or retailers. Hang up from such calls and call your bank, credit card company or loan officer directly to see if they legitimately need some information. Most likely they will not. Check for charges on banking, credit care, phone or cable statements if you have given information to a caller. Call the billing company and contest any charges you have not personally authorized. Check out spam and robocall controls your telephone service provider makes available to block unwanted calls. Most of these are free and can be located on your provider’s website. Pixel phone users can let “Google Assistant,”a feature being installed in Pizel 3 phones this month, screen calls for them. Install a free robocall blockingapp, such as “Hiya,”for iOS and Android phones, which flags potential scam calls by letting you know where they came from and allows you to report scam numbers in the app. Another free app is “Truecaller” that alerts you to fraudulent calls before you pick up. Yet another option for Android users is “Should I Answer,” which contains a feature allowing users to warn each other about the worst unwanted call offenders. Install an app with a chargesuch as “Nomrobo,” which costs $1.99 per month, works on iOS and is similar to “Hiya.” Check out the FCC website for additional resources to block robocalls. Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.