Better Business Bureau gives tips to avoid scam calls

E-T staff report
Better Business Bureau

The steady rise of scam calls throughout the country has led to financial losses and identify theft among consumers.

According to data from the 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers used phone calls to target individuals more than any other method of contact. While most individuals disregarded these calls, those who fell victim lost an average of $1,000. In 2020, BBB Scam Tracker received more than 2,000 reports of scam calls from Texans, who lost an average of more than $6,000.

Scammers often utilize computerized autodialers to send recorded messages to targets. These messages claim to be from various sources, including government agencies, local utility companies or political organizations. The recordings may ask you to disclose your Social Security number, financial information or other personal identifiers.

Some robocalls, such as informational messages from doctors’ offices and pharmacies, are legal, but consumers should still exercise caution. Although scam calls have been a persistent problem over the years, there are ways you can combat them. Consider these tips from your Better Business Bureau before picking up the phone:

• Hang up. The best way to avoid scam calls is to refrain from answering unknown numbers. If you do answer a robocall, hang up immediately. The message may direct you to enter a number to speak to a representative or be removed from the call list, but interacting with the call only shows the scammer your number is active.

• Don’t trust caller ID. Caller ID can be spoofed to suggest the call is coming from businesses, government agencies or even your friends or family. Although a number may appear familiar, answer cautiously or let the call go to voicemail. If it is important, the caller will leave a message.

• Block and report. If an unwanted caller is contacting you, block the number and add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry at DoNotCall.gov. You can also report the number to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), FTC, BBB Scam Tracker and the attorney general’s office.

For more tips on avoiding scam calls, visit us at BBB.org.

To report scam calls, visit:

• The Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.

• The Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

• BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

• The Texas Attorney General’s office at TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov.