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Battling robocalls: Debunking the four big myths

Posted at 10:02 AM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 23:25:48-04

MILWAUKEE — All day we have been battling robocalls.

Now we bust the four biggest robocall myths, to keep your family safe.

We went to Michelle Reinen with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to help us debunk four burning questions. The first: Do you answer?

"No, do not answer the telephone if you do not know who's calling you because ... you confirm that the number is live and active," said Reinen.

Second: Do you speak? Reinen says no, for at least the first three seconds. "And that long pause if there's no connection and nobody is there no one else is saying hello you can go ahead and hang up."

Reinen says scammers have been known to record your voice. They are waiting for you to say the magic word: "Yes." Then, the thief racks up bills in your name, thanks to ... well ... you!

She suggests if you get stuck, answer like this, "'Who's calling, please? How can I help you?' its a really hard thing to do because our habit is to answer the question asked of us and say 'Yes.' "

Third, should you call the number back? The answer is never. In fact, there is a new scheme counting on you to do so, called "The 1 ring scam."

"Throwing consumers off guard in the middle of the night they'll just hit redial. This scam artist is getting money off this toll call again," said Reinen.

Lastly, does the "Do Not Call Registry" even work? Yes, but still be on guard.

"Criminals won't follow the law period, let alone a Do Not Call Registry," said Reinen.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection received more than 4,800 complaints regarding telemarketing calls last year alone.

The number one scam is the Social Security administration impostor scam.

"The fake Social Security administration is making calls to consumers. It's a robo call, and it starts somewhere along the lines of this is your final warning; your Social Security number has been compromised," said Reinen.

She explains the first stage is to steal your Social Security number; the next is all of your savings, warning your assets will be seized. "So they want consumers to transfer your bank account finance savings to a gift card and then provide that gift card to the scam artist so that they can hold it securely with law enforcement so the assets won't be seized."

"There have been thousands of reports nationally of this scam and more than $19 million lost because of this scam on a national level," she warned.

The second most common is the utility scam to consumers and small businesses.

"They threaten you with a work order number, a truck number, a name, and sometimes they'll know the amount of the previous month's bill," warned Reinen.

If you have a robocall consumer complaint, click here to file with DATCP.