“We’re calling about your warranty.” Those five words lead into a scam that can cost victims thousands of dollars. Is it any wonder robocalls, and that includes warranty scams, are among the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) top consumer complaints? Let’s take a look at the scoop behind robocalls and warranty scams.
Don’t touch that dial! Not with warranty scams—or any other
Warranty scams are typically initiated by a computer that can make millions of calls per hour. If you’re a direction follower, you may be tempted ‘press 1’ for more information. Or a different key to be taken off of the calling list. Don’t. Pressing any key will record the response and let the dialer know it has found a live number. And when you’re dialing for dollars, a live number is worth money.
Curiosity killed the cat—and could be hazardous to your bank account
Do a search for warranty scams and it becomes obvious there are almost as many flavors of this scam as there are ice cream. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but there are a lot! To make things worse, data breaches from credit agencies and lenders provide scammers access to specific information about your vehicle.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, “What makes it particularly hard to discern if this type of call is fraudulent is that the scammer may have specific information about your particular car and warranty that they use to deceive you into thinking they are a legitimate caller.”
The bottom line is asking questions, even simple ones like, ‘Which of my vehicles are you calling about?’, can bring you a step closer to making the wrong decision. Hang up or don’t answer at all. It’s your best defense.
What if I make a mistake and engage with the caller?
First off, don’t beat yourself up! It happens. Just make sure you follow these three tips to shut down warranty scams.
Tip #1: Give no information.
Keep your personal and financial information private. Never give it out over the phone or in an email to someone you don’t know.
Tip #2: Screen your calls.
There’s no need to pay a service to screen calls. There are free apps to help with stopping robocalls. On IOS, there’s a nifty feature called ‘Silence Unknown Callers’ (Settings > Phone). This feature sends the caller straight to voicemail if they’re not in your contact list. True, it’s overkill, but it might provide a respite from scam call fatigue.
Tip #3: Report the scam.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, report the crime to the FCC. The best way to shut down warranty scams is to let the authorities know so they can investigate. You may not get your money back, but you might help someone else avoid making the same mistake.
Did you like this scam tip? If so, check out last month’s tip, Beware the temptation to skip the Covid-19 vaccine line.