FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
May 4, 2021

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Robocalls

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against robocall scams.

If you have a phone, chances are you have received one or two or a hundred of those annoying automated robocalls. Sometimes they come in daily. The digital voice on the other end wants to talk to you about your expiring car warranty or a bill you allegedly haven’t paid. In many cases, the fraudster will “spoof” the incoming call number so it appears as though it is someone local calling you.

Today, we want to share some tips with you from our partners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on how to protect yourself.

  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller—or a recording—asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.” The scammer is likely recording you and can use that verbal “yes” later to pretend you agreed to something you did not.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden name, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
  • To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List (https://www.donotcall.gov) Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.

If you believe are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.