An enormous volume of incoming calls is just part of the deal when you’re running a growing business, even if the business is in relatively early stages. Potential leads, vendors, and customers alike are all calling to ask about everything from return policies to order tracking to appointment booking.
These calls can take up a big chunk of time, but they’re productive and an important part of being in business. Robocalls, on the other hand, do nothing but waste your time and could potentially even put you at risk. Many, after all, are fraudulent and scam-based, trying to collect credit card or personal information that they can then use or sell to the highest bidder.
Tired of robocalls putting a damper on your day? Here’s what you can do to protect your time and your business today.
Know What They Look Like
More organizations than ever before are using automated call services to reach out to customers. Discover, for example, used an automated system to reach out and ask cardholders about flagged transactions. This can make identifying legitimate robocalls a little more difficult, because the good guys are using recorded messages, too.
Fortunately, there are two effective ways you can typically identify a potentially fraudulent robocaller right off the bat:
- They don’t identify themselves right away. Most reputable organizations start automated and non-automated calls by saying who they’re with and what they want. If a call doesn’t do that, there’s a chance it could be fraudulent.
- They ask for identifying information. They ask for your credit card number or personal address or social security number. Some pretend to be organizations like banks or the IRS in attempt to startle people, but none of these organizations ever ask for secure information over the phone. Never provide it unless you’ve called them over a secure and verified line.
Most robocallers try to engage in phishing, pretending to call as part of a reputation business or organization in attempt to trick the person into sharing confidential or identifying information. This can be used for identity fraud or in an attempt to steal bank, credit card, or other sensitive information. Keep in mind that all reputable organizations will not ask for your social security number, credit card number, or any other sensitive info over the phone, particularly if they’ve called you.
Even if the phone number looks like it might be ok, don’t trust it on that alone. Many robocallers using a scam called “spoofing” to try to mimic the numbers organizations may call from to trick the person on the other end of the line. It’s common, for example, for scammers to do this using 202 area codes when pretending to be the IRS.
Sign Up for the “Do Not Call” List
Ultimately, most robocallers don’t exactly play by the rules, especially if they’re up to no good. That being said, you can still cut down on some of the calls by signing up for the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. It prohibits telemarketers from calling your business, so go ahead and add all of your business lines to the list to cover your basis. It won’t eliminate all calls, but it will help reduce some of them.
Signing up for the Do Not Call list is free, and it can be done at any point here.
Never Interact With a Robocall Except to Hang Up
Sometimes, robocallers will call you and ask you to say your name, choose from an automated message, or to call them back so that some next step can be taken. Whether this is to grant you a free supposed-loan or to give you more information on some overdue account, it doesn’t matter; never interact with the calls and never call the numbers back. If you do, you’ll end up with more people calling you.
The only interaction that you should ever take with a robocall is to hang up, and ideally, the sooner the better.
Consider Using Call-Blocking Services & Apps
Robocallers are nothing new, and just like there are tools to block ads and pop-ups online, there are now services that can prevent some of the robocallers from coming through and causing your phone to ring.
Some cell phone providers offer call-blocking services from suspected telemarketers and scammers, including Verizon, T-mobile, and AT&T. Some are free, and some may require payment, though it’s typically a low cost.
There are also third-party services that you can use for this purpose. Apps like TrueCaller, Call Blocker, and Calls Blacklist are all good options, with the former two offering caller lookup features and the latter featuring a blocking schedule. If you’re getting repeat calls from common numbers, these apps will help.
Never Give Up Secure Information
Robocallers aren’t like hackers; they need you to give them the information they want, they can’t just take it. The easiest way to protect your business from them, therefore, is to just never hand over that information. No reputable organization will call you and ask for secure information over the phone.
If you have doubts, you can always hang up, look up the business you are familiar with online, and call them directly from the verified number that you find listed publicly. This reduces the likelihood of scams. If it’s a bank or credit card you need to reach, call the number on the back of your card or on your bank statements; they can transfer your call as necessary.
Robocallers are easy to dismiss as a threat, but the reality is that many are getting smarter and more cunning, and plenty have tricked smart, hardworking business owners. At PATLive, our agents are actually trained to quickly recognize robocallers and shut them down so they don’t pose a risk to your business, protecting you along the way.
Make sure that you stay up to date on any new scams that may be floating around, and play it close to the chest with secure information; only give it out on your terms, and not when someone calls to ask.