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As Scams Skyrocket, How To Stop Robocalls On Android And iPhone

I recently witnessed a successful phone scam unfold at a retirement community I was visiting.  This tony enclave of 65-and-older residents is located in a large metropolitan area in the northeast and the residents are almost to a person highly educated, wealthy, formerly successful people.

The call was short and to the point. Basically, the scammer claimed it was a courtesy call to let the person know that they were withdrawing money from an account the person had — a legitimate account, by the way.

It worked because the person panicked — the key to any successful scam. This is best illustrated in successful kidnapping scams when scammers try to quickly amp up the urgency, in an attempt to get victims to react viscerally.

In my case, the person’s immediate reaction was, “I need to call them and find out why they’re withdrawing the money.” I had to wrest the phone from the person’s hand and calm him down. It was a lot harder than you may think. It took me about 10 minutes to fully convince this otherwise- very-intelligent person that it was simply a common scam.

Scammers only need to score big on occasion: luck plays a part

I don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been sitting next to the person when the call came but it’s certainly possible that he would’ve called back and given the scammer sensitive account information, letting the bad guy walk away with a sizable reward.

My takeaway is the scammer lucked out — which eventually will happen if you are robocalling thousands of numbers in the right area codes. Lucked out because the account the scammer cited was a match to the actual account and the dollar figure the scammer mentioned was close to the actual amount associated with the account. So, as soon as the victim heard that figure, he went into a tizzy — and in the process he jettisoned any rational train of the thought.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve been fooled by email scams. Again, the key is luck. Eventually one of the tens of thousands of scammy emails will get through (i.e., not go into junk mail) and, by sheer luck, hit on something that seems relevant and believable.

Hiya…estimates that global spam calls grew 325% to 85 billion worldwide…26.3 billion…total # placed in the U.S.

Callers pretend to be an official representative of the bank
and request sensitive information or items which will allow
them to access the victim’s bank account.

This article originally appeared on Forbes