Home Security Robocalls Are Downright Annoying—Here’s How You Can Fight Them
Although not all robocalls are made equal (some are legal and rather helpful), an increasing number of them are placed to swindle innocent people. Most scam calls operate under a false premise—they are representatives of the IRS or some large company, who need you to do something urgently.
Home security robocalls are just one part of the enormous robocall system. These calls can be dangerous because they sound plausible to many. This means that we all need to take extra care of how we handle them.
What Are Robocalls and How Do They Operate?
Robocalls rely on autodialing software to place a large number of calls cheaply, and people or companies that use robocalls aim at reaching as many people as possible in a short period.
Nowadays, it is getting easier to use robocalls and make them seem professional. A person who decides to run the operation needs to have:
- An auto-dialing software and a server to run it
- Leads lists
- A voiceover to record the phone messages
What Are Home Security Robocalls?
Home security systems are networks of integrated electronic devices that protect people from intruders. Lots of home security companies on the market that offer these systems compete against each other, trying to attract buyers. Some of them opt for using robocalls because they help them reach lots of people quickly.
With the rising number of recorded sales robocall messages from alarm companies, people have started worrying about their safety—falling into the trap of fake alarm companies who are trying to trick them has become one of the major concerns of an average citizen.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (FTC) has been fighting against home security robocalls for years. In 2014, the FTC brought a complaint against Versatile Marketing Solutions (VMS). The company was accused of making millions of calls to people whose numbers were on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to set up a home security system.
This Massachusetts-based home security company stated they bought numbers from lead generators who acquired written consent from clients to place a call, which was not true. In the end, the defendants were fined with a $3.4 million penalty judgment.
If a home security company decides to obtain phone numbers from lead generators, they must exercise due diligence unless they want their company to be equal to those who place illegal telemarketing calls.
How Do Home Security Robocall Scammers Operate?
The scheme that home security robocallers carry out is relatively simple.
- You will usually receive a message that tells you that you can get a free security system or that someone has bought one for you. Sometimes, callers can tell you they represent your existing security company and that they want to “upgrade” or “replace” your current security system
- Whichever story they choose to tell you, you will be offered two options—to either press a key to reach the operator or to press another key to be removed from the call list. If you hit any key, scammers will know that your number is active, and you will start receiving more calls than before
How Can You Recognize Home Security Robocall Scams?
The promise of anything that’s free reeks of scammers, so don’t be fooled by their false stories. In the home security business, you need to learn how to tell good from bad guys.
The fraudsters who advertise or try to sell home security systems can have convincing stories to trick you. They usually tell you someone has paid an alarm for you or that you have won a free state-of-the-art security system at no charge. These scammers will offer to make an appointment to come to your home and install it.
Although scammers can be shrewd and smooth in their operations, there are some red flags that show you are dealing with them. Here are some clear signs that you have received a home security scam call:
- Striking fear in you. If you receive a call from home security right after there has been a burglary in your neighborhood, feel free to get suspicious. Lots of fraudsters will try to scare you by saying your house is the next target. They will count on your fear and impaired judgement at that moment to get a hold of everything they need from you
- Giving fake identities. Scammers are aware they are making illegal phone calls and will try to avoid getting caught. The people behind these calls will bend over backward to hide their real info. It is difficult to know if you have been given the true or fake info, but there’s something you can do. Write down everything the caller says, and once you hang up the phone, check the information online to see if the company they claim to be working for really exists
- Manipulating targets by using the words immediately, now, today. The less time you have to think about the legitimacy of the call, the better chances they have to deceive you. They can also give you a tight deadline to make up your mind, and in the heat of the moment, you might accept their offer. That’s what these scammers are counting on
How Can You Protect Yourself From Robocalls?
The increased number of phone calls has made people search for ways to protect themselves and try to stop robocalls. Even though robocallers are rather persistent and determined to reach as many people as possible, there is something you can do to keep them at bay.
Use Your Provider’s Call Protection
Lots of mobile carriers and third-party companies provide their clients with apps that block spam callers. Below, you will find the most popular and efficient ones:
- T-Mobile uses First Orion technology that allows inspecting the call you receive and labeling it as “spam likely.” You can also log into your account or dial #662# to use the Spam Block service
- AT&T offers a Call Protect app, which is free for Android and iOS smartphones. If you opt for a premium version, which has reverse number lookups and advanced caller ID services, you can get it for $3.99 a month
- Verizon offers Verizon’s Call Filter app, which can help you stop unwanted calls. It is available for both Android and iOS users. For a premium version, Call Filter Plus, you will get a personal blocklist option and spam risk meter for $2.99 a month
How to Block Numbers on Android Devices
Android phone users can use options for blocking only one number or all unknown calls.
Here’s how you can block only one number:
- Go to the Phone app
- Tap on Recent Calls
- Click on the number you wish to block
- Select Block or Report as spam
Here’s how you can block all unwanted calls:
- Go to the Phone app
- Tap on Settings
- Click on the option Blocked Numbers
- Enable Block Unidentified Numbers switch
How to Block Numbers on iOS Devices
iOS devices offer the option of blocking one undesired caller or silencing all unknown contacts.
Here’s how you can block only one number:
- Go to your Phone app
- Click on Recents
- Tap on the info icon which looks like a circled “i” letter
- Click on option Block this Caller
- Confirm by tapping on Block Contact
Here are guidelines for silencing unknown calls:
- Go to Settings
- Click on Phone
- Enable the Silence Unknown Callers switch
Are All Robocalls Illegal?
Whether you receive a pre-recorded message or you speak to a human robocaller, you must learn to differentiate between legal calls and scam to be able to protect yourself.
Robocalls are not illegal, per se. Lots of institutions use robocall systems to pass valid information to their clients and the general public. You can receive legal robocalls from:
- Government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that inform you about important deadlines or essential changes in the policy
- Charity organizations that ask for donations
- Pharmacies that inform you that your prescription is ready
- Schools and campuses that notify you about sudden and unexpected changes of the opening hours
- Debt collection agencies that inform you about deadlines for settling your debt
These institutions are allowed to use robocalls provided they meet certain requirements:
- Make calls after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m.
- Provide proper identification
- Do not ask for your sensitive information over the phone
As for illegal robocalls, they use lots of creative ways to catch you off guard and trick you into providing them with your personal and financial information. Some of them will rely on a smooth approach, while others can turn to aggressive behavior.
These scammers pose a great threat to the safety of U.S. citizens. They range from extended automobile warranties to home security systems. Let’s see some of the other common robocall scams:
Common Robocall Scams
How They Try to Trick You
|These robocallers will usually turn to the elderly or immigrants, who can get intimidated by government threats easily. The fake IRS representatives will try to get a hold of your sensitive info.|
Credit card services
|These robocallers will offer to lower your bills or interest rates while attempting to get a hold of your credit card number. Providing fake credit card service robocallers with sensitive info can leave you with lots of credit card issues.|
|These scammers will usually offer warranty extension for 50% or more off the regular price.|
|If you receive a call from someone who claims you have won money or a holiday for two in a competition, we hate to disappoint you, but you are most likely targeted by scammers.|
What Can You Do if You Receive a Robocall?
If your phone rings and you see a number you don’t recognize on display, you might be dealing with a robocall. Here are some tips on what to do if you receive a robocall and how to eliminate potential threats of scam calls.
- If you suspect you are receiving a robocall, the best thing you can do is not pick up the phone
- Messing with robocalls can be fun, but we assure you it is not safe. Advances in technology have enabled scammers to record your voice and use it later to authorize fraudulent charges
- Fraudsters use a call-spoofing technology that helps them mask their real numbers. If you are getting a phone call from a number that is similar to yours, do not answer it
- If you answer the phone, do not provide robocallers with your personal or financial information
- Put your number in the Do Not Call Registry if you want to reduce the number of robocalls. When you complete the process of registering, check if your number is on the Do Not Call list to verify that you have submitted it successfully.
You should check out the Do Not Call exceptions. Even though your number is on the Do Not Call list, some robocalls can’t be blocked.
What Can You Do If You Have Provided Robocallers With Your Sensitive Information?
If you were tricked into giving your private and financial details to robocallers, do not panic! It is still not too late to repair the damage. Here’s what you can do:
- Act fast. The first thing you need to do is call the bank and cancel your credit card. This way, you will prevent the scammers from withdrawing funds from it
- Report the scammer. The Federal Trade Commission is there to take your complaint and protect your rights. If you decide to file it to the FTC and report a robocall, you need to acquire the fraudster’s real number. You can also report the scammer by calling 1-888-382-1222
- Report identity theft. Go to identitytheft.gov and make a personalized recovery plan
Can Robocalls Be Stopped With DoNotPay?
Even though these annoying pests can’t be stopped entirely, DoNotPay offers an efficient and quick solution for robocall scams. Partner with DoNotPay, and you will get your much-desired robocall revenge!
Fraudsters don’t have to wrong you to make you annoyed with them—the number of calls you receive per day is suffice for you to become vindictive.
Our app can’t help you to block the calls, but it can reduce their number and help you earn money from these scammers. The whole process takes only a few steps, and it is completely legal. Here’s how Robo Revenge option works:
- Log on DoNotPay via your web browser or iOS app
- Click on RoboRevenge
- Generate the DoNotPay virtual credit card
- Provide the caller with the details of the card
- Wait for scammers to try to withdraw the money of the card, which is a key moment for the app to extract their names and location
- Follow the instruction on DoNotPay and file a robocall lawsuit against them
Tracking down fraudsters with DoNotPay is completely safe. Your free virtual credit card is not attached to your personal credit card, and it does not provide access to any money. It will appear as a real card to the scammer, but it only serves to acquire details on the caller.
Since these fraudsters are aware they are violating the law, they will most likely offer an out-of-court settlement, and you can get up to $3,000 in compensation!
Make the Best of DoNotPay
DoNotPay has been successful in the battle against robocalls, but Robo Revenge is not the only feature we have to offer. Our app offers the world’s first robot lawyer that you can use as your legal consultant. All you need to do is log in via the web browser or your iOS device. DoNotPay boasts lots of great features that you can use to:
- Manage your subscriptions or memberships
- Sue companies that wronged you
- Dispute traffic tickets
- Deal with issues with credit cards
- Manage bills you are unable to pay
- Manage refunds for delayed and canceled flights
- Contest parking tickets
- Reach customer support faster by jumping phone queues
- Fight speeding tickets
- Schedule DMV appointments faster than ever
- Get robocall compensation