By 2020, we have learned it’s best not to answer our phones if we don’t recognize the phone number. Yes, it could be someone we know with an unknown number or an innocent wrong number. Those are possibilities, but it’s more likely that the mysterious caller is a scammer.
Scam calls, also known as robocalls, are frighteningly convincing. They may tell the innocent person that they owe money to the IRS and that they need to pay thousands of dollars before a police officer comes to their door for their arrest. Or, they scare people (especially elderly victims) by pretending they’re a relative in danger. The scare tactics trick victims into draining their bank accounts, and all the scammers have to do is sit at a call center and tell a good story.
But you have probably noticed that since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020, there have been fewer robocalls. Every industry has been affected by the pandemic, including scammers. The virus is claiming another victim, but this time, it’s for a good reason.
Decrease In Robocalls
Before the coronavirus pandemic took over the world, you would receive robocalls multiple times every week. It’s annoying, which is why several customers have paid for blocking services to prevent scammers from calling them. Scammers still had a successful job tricking innocent people into paying large amounts of money.
YouMail, a robocall-blocking service, reported that 2.9 billion robocalls were placed in April 2020 in the United States, with approximately 97 million daily calls. While that still seems like a huge number, it’s down from 4.1 billion calls in March and 4.8 billion calls in February. Fewer robocalls are being placed, resulting in “sighs of relief” from customers.
The Reason For The Decrease
Fewer robocalls are being placed because global call centers have closed due to the social distancing orders. If they haven’t closed, they’re operating with fewer workers, which results in fewer calls being placed. After lockdown orders went into effect in India in late March, the volume of calls was cut in half by the next day, according to YouMail CEO Alex Quilici.
This is a great thing for right now, but what happens once the call centers open up again? Experts predict that robocalls will most likely be back in full force once the call centers start operating again, just like before. This means more security will be necessary to protect innocent people from becoming victims.
Industry groups and the U.S. government have focused on targeting these call centers, as well as going after the small telecom providers that allow these robocalls. Free blocking tools are already in place on many people’s phones, but consumers are encouraged to subscribe to blocking services to help prevent their chances of being scammed from robocalls.
But robocalls can still slip past the system. “What we do hear from consumers is call blocking tools are effective in reducing a significant number of robocalls, but some unwanted calls are going to slip through,” reported Maureen Mahoney, a policy analyst with Consumer Reports.
People need to be careful. When global call centers open up again, scammers will use coronavirus-related stories to trick people to pay money. Robocalls are going to pretend to be the U.S. government, healthcare providers, and other officials to convince innocent victims to pay money to help with medical and economic emergencies.
It will be a scary time for everyone but remember to be careful. The U.S. government won’t directly call you. The IRS doesn’t call people to demand immediate payment or to make threats. Listen to the language and check the company’s credentials. Never give any personal or financial information to someone unless you can verify their information, check with the Better Business Bureau, and ask for references. Be safe and know that if the phone call doesn’t sound right, it’s not right. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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