Number of Spam and Scam Calls Using White Pages Listings Increasing in Recent Years
by Christopher Boyle
NEW YORK, NY - For as long as anyone can remember, owning a phone and enduring spam or scam callers have gone hand-in-hand. Typically pulling phone numbers originally from print White Page directories, and later mining their online successors when the internet came to prominence, there’s a plethora of ways that both legitimate businesses and crafty criminals have attempted to separate people from their hard-earned money over the years via a phone call. But one thing is for certain- it’s only getting worse, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your bank account.
First of all, it’s important to know the difference between a spam and scam call, as each have similar goals but totally different intentions behind them. Essentially, scam callers engage in fraudulent activity that aims to steal your money or personal information, which can in turn be used to – you guessed it – steal your money! A perpetrator of a phone scam will often approach a victim in a benevolent manner, informing them that they are the winner of a contest prize or offering them a great deal on some kind of consumer item like a television or computer. Or, more blatantly, they can come out swinging by claiming to be a representative of a collection agency or the Internal Revenue Service and demanding immediate payment in the face of dire consequences. Such calls should always be hung up on and the number reported – especially if the caller offers no concrete information that they even know your full identity – as the organizations such as the IRS never communicate with people via the phone regarding debts; they only will do so by physical mail.
Spam falls into a similar category as it’s also a form of unsolicited and annoying communication from a third party, but in this instance it’s typically calls and texts from live telemarketers hawking their products and services or robocalls which deliver pre-recorded statements and business pitches in an attempt to connect you to a live solicitor. Again, it’s the best course of action to just hang up on such calls and report the number to a Do Not Call Registry, and in the case of robocalls, the Federal Communication Commission, as such communication without prior consent is not legal.
The main thing both Scam and Spam calls share is that the people behind both of them are pulling your contact information from the same sources - namely print and online White Page listings, as well as any shady websites that you may have entered your personal info into; some sites will then unceremoniously share that info with third parties without your consent, and before you know it, you’re being inundated with unwanted calls.
While it’s difficult – practically impossible, in some cases – to remove your contact information once it’s been spread across the web – like Las Vegas, what happens there, stays there – it IS possible to start over with a clean slate, and from that point forward exercise extreme caution about where you share your information. While many scammers and businesses will mine White Page listings for new numbers to harass endlessly in the search for profits, there’s an important distinction between landline telephones – which are dwindling in number each and every day – and cell phones, which are becoming more and more ubiquitous in our society with every passing moment. The distinction is simple - White Page directories, both print and online, will publish landline phone numbers, but cell numbers are never listed by default; those users much choose to opt-in, as cell numbers are considered “private.” So, simply do not opt-in.
And if you’re signing up for a particular website or online service that requires a phone number to proceed, there are many ways around that; for example, Google Voice allows users to create and activate a new phone number that will automatically forward to your real number, allowing you to keep it private and safe; when you don’t need the Google Voice number anymore, simple deactivate or create a new one.
Today, there are countless avenues where people can acquire your personal information and use it against you, in manners ranging from annoying to downright illegal. But with care, caution, and common sense, you can protect yourself – and more importantly, your bank account – from unwanted intrusion and enjoy some peace and quiet on top of it.