The ‘Hello’ Hack: How to Handle and Avoid Unsolicited Phone Calls

Phone scammers will call you unsolicited, pretending to be from an organisation you trust, such as your bank or the police. These scam calls may be automated or from a real person. They may ask you for your personal information like banking details or tell you you need to transfer money.

The question is, how do you prevent this from happening? In this article, British Seniors Alliance provides a list of useful answers on what to do when receiving unsolicited calls, and how to get rid of them in the long run:

Question 1: Why Do I Keep Getting Calls from Random Numbers?

When asked why most of the victims are seniors, MD Deborah Stone of myageingparent.com explained, “Because many older individuals buy from catalogues or reply to newspaper ads, their names and phone numbers might wind up being passed on as possible buyers to other sales organisations.”

Computers create calls from random phone numbers. Scammers utilise Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology to hide their identity. They frequently utilise phone numbers that have the same area code as yours. Because scammers are generating random numbers to disguise their calls, your number might pop up on someone else’s caller ID. If you get a call from someone you do not know who says you called them, you are probably both victims of scammers. 

In this case, never return a call to a number you do not recognise.

Question 2: How Do I Stop Unwanted Scam, Spam and Robocalls?

Receiving multiple spam calls a day is not only annoying, but it also potentially puts your financial information at risk. Many of these unsolicited calls are meant to confuse you and prompt you to give out personal information. 

While it’s hard to ignore a ringing phone, there are some actions you can take to help limit the number of spam calls and robocalls you receive:

Tip Number 1: Don’t respond.

Calls from unknown numbers should be avoided. The scammer may not call again if no one answers. They might be trying out the number to check whether it works.

Tip Number 2: Ignore the Instructions. 

Do not accept any directions from a pre-recorded voice on the phone to dial a certain number. This technique is frequently used to select easy targets who will do anything the caller says.

Tip Number 3: Keep Your Lips Shut. 

Before hanging up the phone, don’t answer any questions or make any remarks. Never give out account numbers, names, passwords, or any other personal information to an unknown caller.

Tip Number 4: Be Aware, and Avoid Spoofing. 

Scammers may make any phone number appear on your caller ID, so don’t answer the phone just because the number appears familiar. This is known as “spoofing”, and it makes determining whether a number that shows on your phone’s caller ID is spam or not more difficult. 

Tip Number 5: Confirm the Call through Official Phone Numbers. 

If the caller says they are from a company or government agency calling about your account, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement. That is the best way to verify the claim.

Tip Number 6: Provide a Password. 

Instead of obtaining rapid access to your voicemail while calling from your phone number, make sure you create a password for it.

Always update your voicemail box’s default passwords and create a complicated password with at least six digits to make it more difficult for hackers to guess.

Tip Number 7: Contact TPS

The best way to reduce nuisance calls is to register for free with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). They’ll add you to their list of numbers that don’t want to receive sales and marketing calls. It’s against the law for salespeople from the UK or overseas to call numbers registered with TPS.

Question 3: Can my service provider directly help me in blocking numbers?

Most of the major landline phone providers now offer a free service to reduce the number of nuisance calls that you receive. 

BT for example has a Call Protect feature which automatically diverts calls that BT believes to be coming from nuisance callers. They are put in customers’ junk voicemail boxes and from there it can allow customers to create a blacklist of numbers they wish to block.

On the other hand, Sky has the Sky Talk Shield which blocks calls from automated services and asks live callers to identify themselves. When customers answer the call they can hear a recording of this and can choose to answer it or add the number to a block list.

TalkTalk also has a free CallSafe feature which works similarly to Sky’s Talk Shield.

Question 4: How do I block unwanted numbers on my smartphone?

If you have an iPhone, tap the I sign next to your recent callers’ list, which can be found under the ‘Recents’ tab at the bottom of your Phone app. Scroll down and hit Block this Caller after clicking the I sign next to the annoying number.

If you have an Android phone, you can also see your call history by going into your Phone app and clicking the clock sign. Then you may select the number you wish to block. When you touch it, a small menu appears, allowing you to block it.

High-pressure sales calls can be quite distressing for the elderly, especially now that most scammers target them for suspected vulnerability. With the internet and its unsafe rules on data protection, it is important to consider the mentioned advice for an extra level of security, and peace of mind for our beloved elderly.