Watch out for these robocall scams during lockdown

Robocalls and scammers have seized on COVID-19 fears in an attempt to scam Americans.

Unwanted phone calls happen to almost everyone who has a phone. These calls often happen several times per day and, if you are not vigilant, you could end up the victim of a scam.

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With this in mind, seniors care services company Provision Living surveyed 4,038 Americans in March and April 2020. It wanted to find out their experiences with robocalls -- automated calls from unknown entities -- and whether these calls had changed since the coronavirus pandemic occurred.

Over nine out of 10 (91%) reported that robocalls are becoming more common.

Almost two out of three (65%) Americans reported that they were receiving robocalls at least once per day -- the average is 3.4 calls daily. Over half of the respondents reported receiving a robocall after 9pm at night.

Over three out of four have been harassed by the same caller -- sometimes calling from different numbers -- multiple times per day.

Almost one in three (30%) reported receiving calls from the same robocaller more than five times per day. Unsurprisingly, almost two out of five (37%) said that they had lost their temper and swore or yelled at a robocaller.

The most common calls received by respondents were calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration (39%), Internal Revenue Service (38%), travel companies (36%), and debt collectors (33%).

Watch out for these robocall scams during lockdown

Provision Living

Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents had experienced an increase in robocalls since COVID-19 and one in five people (20%) have received a call or text message regarding COVID-19.

The most common COVID-19 robocalls are calls claiming to provide COVID-19 treatments (22%), financial relief (18%), free COVID-19 testing (18%), warnings of virus exposure (18%), charitable donations (9%) and low-price health insurance (9%).

This increase in robocalls means that many are much more cautious about answering the phone. Almost three in five (57%) are scared to answer a call from an unrecognizable number, and almost half (46%) have missed an important call because they thought it was a robocall.

How to minimize your chances of being scammed

There are several things that you can do to minimize the chances of falling victim to a scam call.

Do not answer your phone at all if you do not recognize the number. Unfortunately, this could increase the risk of missing out on a delivery, or another call you were waiting for.

Add numbers to phone's blocked list. If you do answer a robocall and recognize it as such, disconnect the call and add the number to your list of blocked numbers.

List your number on the Federal Trade Commission's 'National Do Not Call' registry. Some non-US based scammers will still call you regardless of whether you are registered or not.

Download a robocall prevention app. There are many free and paid apps the will prevent robocalls from getting through. Search for robocall blockers in your app store.

Make sure that your friends or family -- especially the senior generation -- know how to prevent these calls. it might stop them from falling victim to a scam and will give them peace of mind each time the phone rings.