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Robocalls and scam texts pose a threat this summer for those who aren't prepared

Fraud experts suggest talking with kids, teens, and seniors about risks
Robocalls and scam texts pose threat this summer for those who aren't prepared
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 09:10:12-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — If it feels like you’ve been getting an increasing number of questionable text messages or “scam likely” calls, you’re probably right.

Despite efforts from the federal government and telecom companies to shut down robocalls, there hasn’t been much progress made to keep bad actors from utilizing cheap technology to run these mass-messaging scams.

According to RoboKiller, an app that blocks spam messages, Americans faced roughly 7.6 billion robocalls and 11.7 billion spam text messages in march of 2022. That means the average American received about 42 spam texts that month.

”So you have a tendency more psychologically to look at something quickly engage or not engage. So it’s kind of a 50/50 chance that the scammers have that you’re actually going to engage without thinking because you might be walking to your car, you might be in a grocery store, you’re not thinking about scams and your guard may be lowered,” said CSU Global’s “Dr. Fraud” J. Michael Skiba.

Robocall protection isn’t much better. Youmails' robocall index shows that the average person got more than 13 spam calls a month.

These fraudsters don’t need a high success rate to make a payday, either. Of the thousands of people they may contact, they only need a few to work. One widespread scam we saw in 2021 revolved around delivery notifications that indicated the owner of the phone lost or forgot to pick up a package, and that they had to turn personal data over to get a hold of it.

The experts say they’re seeing more specific and targeted attacks.

”They realized instead of casting out such a wide net, if they did a little research on someone, got their title or their manager’s title, a local phone number, and were more focused with the strategy, the success was actually greater,” said Skiba.

And this summer fraud experts say it’ll be important to prepare both kids and teens for robocalls and scam texts they may be experiencing for the first time.

”During the summer the younger population spends three to four hours more on devices than adults,” said Skiba. ”A lot of them don’t know the actual risks of it. They don’t have credit yet, they don’t know that that could damage them in the future. They don’t know that their personal information could be released and it could affect them down the road.”

Meanwhile, seniors continue to face relentless scam attacks. The FBI says scam artists conned older Americans out of more than $1.7 Billion last year. That was a 74-percent increase from 2020.

88-year-old Eleanor Rusnak says she’s working to keep her guard up by taking extra steps to verify callers

“You tell me what the account number is and I’ll see if it agrees and if it doesn’t, hang up,” said Rusnak. “Get the numbers, have it on hand, have it right by your phone. When you hang up from that phone call, call the right number and talk to that person directly.”

Whether it’s an unexpected text message, or call, one of the best things you can do before you give up money or sensitive information is to talk to someone you trust about what you’re being told. Odds are if it’s a scam they’ll see the red flags you might be missing.

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