Spam phone calls, robocalls, or scam calls aren’t quite as common on cell phones as they are on landlines, but they still happen way too often. When I posted advice on blocking robocalls on landlines, immediately people asked me about mobile phones. So here’s how to stop robocalls on my cell phone. And yours.
In May 2018, there were 4.1 billion robocalls in the United States. And it’s not slowing down. Robocallers won’t stop calling you on your own. So here are five things you can do, in order of increasing effectiveness. Many of them don’t cost you anything.
We’ve all received more than our fair share of them: Phone calls from financial scams, tech support scams, and other dodgy phone calls trying to rip us off. There are actually several things you can do about them. Here’s how to report scam phone calls, so you and others will get fewer of them.
Common types include fake tech support and financial calls. Tech support calls may solicit payment for questionable computer services via credit card or wire transfer. Some scam phone calls may be more interested in getting personal information from you for the purposes of identity theft than money. But it’s important to stop fraud regardless of the motivation, to protect both ourselves and our neighbors.
Getting a spam phone call, robocall, or scam call every 10 minutes makes you a prisoner in your own home. Blocking those calls would be a real quality of life improvement. Phone companies aren’t terribly interested in helping you, though. But you have options. Here’s how to block robocalls on a landline phone.
“Hello? My name is Max and I’m calling from CSA. We got a report saying that services are stopped on your computer.”
I hung up, for lack of energy to fight with “Max,” or even to try to convince him my name is Suchita. But if that phone call sounds familiar, feel free to hang up on Max, or whatever he says his name is. It’s a scam. If you want to know why, read on.
“Daniel” from “Microsoft” called me the other day. The number looked halfway legit so I picked up. He out and out claimed to be from Microsoft and said he was getting alerts from my computer. His voice sounded familiar–I think I’d talked to him before.
Someone I know got a tech support scam popup that said their computer was being hacked. I said to bring the computer over. I wanted to see it.
I found the malicious site in the browser history–I’ll tell you how to do that after I finish my story–and pulled the page back up. The computer played an MP3 file with a scary-sounding message and urged me to call an 888 number. So I called. I got voicemail. I left a message.
Last Tuesday night my oldest son came into the room and told me he thought one of our computers was being hacked. So I kicked into incident response mode and walked into the other room to be greeted with a computer loudly telling me that Microsoft Security Essentials was unable to clean a virus and to immediately call Microsoft.
Instead I immediately shut down the computer. Here’s why.
I got e-mail the other day from Turbotax saying someone had filed my taxes for me. Obviously a cause for concern, right? Here’s how I determined the message was fake in about three minutes. You can spot phishing e-mails with Outlook the same way.
Some people will tell you not to even open a message like this, but if you’re a computer professional, at some point someone is going to want you to prove the message was fake. I think this is something every e-mail administrator, desktop support professional, security professional, and frankly, every helpdesk professional ought to be able to do.
So here’s how you can get the proof. And generally speaking, Outlook 2010’s default configuration is paranoid enough that this procedure will be safe to do. If you want an extra layer of protection, make sure you have EMET installed and protecting Outlook.
A software developer asked me today about a website called Download More RAM. I don’t think he heard my other coworkers snicker. He asked if it’s possible to download RAM, then asked if it was a security issue. I said it’s best not to visit it, and spared him the history lesson.
Buried unfortunately deep in August’s Social Engineer podcast was some outstanding advice from British TV star R. Paul Wilson, who turned scamming into prime-time BBC TV for several seasons.
Wilson, who literally has sold someone a bridge that he of course didn’t own, has lots of experience on both sides of scamming, so his experience is invaluable. I was just disappointed that we had to listen to 45 minutes of Christopher Hadnagy and David Kennedy arguing before we could hear it, so I’ll cut through the garbage.