Posts Tagged: ‘scammers’

What are VoIP Phone Numbers?

October 30, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

VoIP Phone Service

As technology expands, ways to connect are increasing exponentially. Although it has been around for quite a few years, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become more popular than ever. While there are advantages to using VoIP numbers, there are also disadvantages, including usage by scammers. What are VoIP numbers and how do they work?

Voice over Internet Protocol

Traditional phone services link a specific phone to a number. That number will always be used when placing calls from the phone. However, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers are not tied to a specific phone. Rather, they are numbers connected to an Internet service. A user signs up with a website, such as Google Voice. The user registers with the website and receives a phone number. The user can make calls using that number from any supporting device. This means a user can make calls from a cell phone, computer, laptop, or even an analog telephone. The services are often free or charge a monthly fee. The low or no cost feature of using a VoIP number is especially attractive to businesses because it can drastically reduce monthly fees.

Advantages

The benefits of using a VoIP are many. They include:

  • Never have to change phone numbers
  • Not tying up your personal line
  • Not having to purchase a business line
  • Cheap or free service
  • International calling
  • Masking identity
  • Choosing any phone number in any area code
  • Operating multiple phone lines
  • Accessing many features of traditional phone services

Disadvantages

  • Unable to place 911 calls
  • Must have an Internet connection
  • Disabled during a power outage
  • Dependent on bandwidth
  • Internet can cause lag time
  • Lower quality than traditional service
  • Callers can mask their identity
  • Callers can pretend to be representatives of businesses or agencies (Bank, IRS, etc.)
  • Blocked numbers
  • Scammers/telemarketers can use local numbers
  • May be harder to trace
  • Identity may not be available
  • May permit viruses on computer/phone system

Tracing VoIP Numbers

Recently, it has become easier for services to trace VoIP numbers. The numbers are linked to an IP address rather than to a specific phone, therefore traces can be tricky, but they can be done. The best way to avoid issues with telemarketers or scammers is to block unknown or foreign numbers using an app. If you answer an unknown number, never give out personal information. If you suspect a scam, contact your Attorney General or local authorities on their non-emergency line.

Are You Being Spoofed?

August 30, 2018 Posted by Pamela M

As diligent as phone service carriers can be, scammers and telemarketing firms are even more so. They seem to stay ahead of the technology and the carriers just can’t keep up.  You may have noticed an increase in local calls to your phone, many of which are local numbers – or even numbers of neighbors, family and friends. Sadly, there isn’t much we can do about these calls except to ignore or block them. Registering on the National Do Not Call Registry or reporting calls may help, but I’ve read numerous accounts that the reports only generate more calls. Why is this happening?

Local Numbers

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software allows any user to create an account and choose a local phone number. The caller uses that number for whatever business or scam he is perpetrating, knowing that people are more likely to answer local numbers. The unwanted caller bets that you will answer, wondering if it’s a call from a neighbor, doctor’s office, or your child’s school. The caller may also tap into the number of a friend or family member, ensuring that you will pick up. Once you answer, the caller goes into his prepared spiel, hoping to lure you into purchasing a product or sending money for some invented reason.

How To Recognize Scammers

Most people are familiar with email scams wherein someone reports an overseas crisis, an unexpected windfall, or other event that requires the recipient to send money. Fake lotteries and business opportunities make big promises that will never deliver. Even the savviest people fall for these scams because the scammers are trained to be convincing and persistent. One of the most recent scams is being called by a utility company or the IRS, demanding immediate payment or face jail time. This is especially scary to senior citizens who may be easily confused or not up to date on the latest scamming trends.

How To Make It Stop

There is no surefire way to make the calls stop. Using a reverse number lookup app on your phone will help decrease the number of calls. If a call comes from a number you do not recognize, let the call go to voicemail. Most scammers or telemarketers will not leave a message. If you receive a message that sounds legit and important, you may call the number, but beware. Any calls received from the utility company or the IRS demanding payment are most likely fraud. The IRS never calls people on the phone; they send letters. If a utility company calls, get the name and extension of the person calling as well as a call back number that you can use to verify the information. Also check the claim against any outstanding bills. If you do suspect fraud, report the call immediately to the police.

Lastly, limit the number of things you sign up for online. The more you use your phone number, the more likely you are to receive calls. You may also consider getting a masked number from Google voice or another company to separate your personal calls from potential fraudsters.