Q: I keep getting phone calls claiming my auto warranty is about to expire and that I need to take advantage of some great deal they are offering. I can tell they’re scammers, but what can I do about them?
Answer: Unfortunately, such scammers are out in force lately, especially with so many people being at home nowadays to get the calls.
The Federal Communications Commission has put out a warning about these calls.
“During the call — which often begins automated or pre-recorded — you may be instructed to press a certain number or stay on the line, then asked to provide personal information, which potentially can be used to defraud you,” they warn. “What makes it particularly hard to discern if this type of call is fraudulent is that the scammer may have specific information about your particular car and warranty that they use to deceive you into thinking they are a legitimate caller.”
Don’t be fooled; it is relatively easy to get basic information about your car, and they will try to use a few basic facts to manipulate you into revealing more. Here are some tips from the FCC.
- Don’t give the caller any personal information. That includes social security number, credit card information, driver’s license, passwords or bank account information to any caller unless you can verify you are dealing directly with a legitimate company you have an established business relationship with. “Telephone scammers are good at what they do and may imply that they work for a company you trust,” according to the FCC. “Don’t fall for it. Be extremely cautious.”
- If you have caller ID, screen all incoming calls. “Legitimate telemarketers are required to transmit or display their phone number and the name and/or the phone number of the company they’re representing,” according to the FCC. “The display must include a phone number that you can call during regular business hours to ask that the company no longer call you.”
- Be cautious. Even if the number appears to be authentic, criminals engage in caller ID “spoofing,” using technology to disguise their identity. It’s best not to answer a call at all, or if you do, to hang up immediately.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.” A scammer may record that answer and use it fraudulently to make it sound like you have agreed to a “deal” they are offering.
- If a call comes from someone claiming to represent a company you deal with, hang up and call the phone number on your billing statement, not the number that just called you.
- If you answer a call or recording that asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. “Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets,” the FCC warns.
- Check with your phone company to see if they have any call blocking tools or apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
- Be sure you are registered with the Do Not Call List (www.donotcall.gov), since legitimate telemarketers consult that list to avoid calling people who don’t want to be called — and then you will know the odds are stronger the caller is not legit.
Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101