Phone call scams
Most of us probably don’t answer a phone call when it’s from a number we don’t know. We know it’s probably some kind of scam trying to separate us from our money. Here are the newest phone scams to watch out for.
Phone scam #1: In this scam you get a call from a robocall autodialer using fake caller ID information that hangs up before you can answer. The scammers might do this several times in a row, making you curious about the call. Don’t call back.
Phone scam #2: Or you might get a call like the one described above, but it doesn’t hang up right away. The scammer (or their robocaller) waits for you to answer and then plays a recording of someone crying for help or maybe under attack--and then hangs up. The scammers want you to call back, as a Good Samaritan. Who doesn’t want to help someone in trouble? Not this time, though. Don’t call back.
Phone scam #3: In this one, you might get a text message saying that the person sending the message is in danger and needs your help. It will look like the message went to the wrong recipient, and they’ll ask you to call or to text back. Because again, who doesn’t want to help? Don’t text back.
But Greg, how does anyone make money on these scams?
The scammers make money from the phone companies when you call or text the numbers they leave. The scam is commonly called the “473” scam or the “One Ring Scam,” and the numbers that show up on your caller ID or text message are premium numbers. Think old school 900 numbers that charge you by the minute while you’re on the call or for text messages you send.
It’s called the “473 scam” because the scammers like to use caller IDs with the area code 473--which uses the +1 country code, so it looks like a US call. But 473 is the area code for the island of Grenada. The scammers also use area codes for other islands outside the United States. So, any calls placed to 473 numbers are international calls and probably not included in your phone’s calling plan. You can run up a big bill that way. The scammer’s premium 473 numbers can cost you $20 a minute or more. All that money goes right to their account.
The scammers use a variety of area codes for these phone scams. The thing these area codes have in common is they all use the +1 country code, so it looks to you like you’re calling a number in the US. Here are the most common area codes to watch out for:
242 — the Bahamas, 246 — Barbados, 264 — Anguilla, 268 — Antigua, 441 — Bermuda, 649 — Turks and Caicos, 664 — Montserrat, 784 — St. Vincent and Grenadines, 809, 829, and 849 — Dominican Republic, 868 — Trinidad and Tobago
To protect yourself from these phone scams, remember this: in today’s world if you miss a call and someone you know wants to reach you, they’ll probably leave a voicemail or send you a text from a number you recognize. That’s ok.
But if you don’t know the number of that missed call or text, don’t call back and don’t worry about it.
Someone you don’t know at a location you haven’t heard of isn’t going to dial or text your number and ask for help; they would call the police instead. I know I would. Don’t call them back.
Google Chrome Tricks
Chrome can mute audio on open tabs. Enable Tab audio muting by copying and pasting the following into your Chrome browser bar: chrome://flags/#enable-tab-audio-muting and clicking Enable in the list.
Shut down web pages that are slow to load without completely quitting the browser. Head over to Settings > More tools > Task manager and close the page.
Use Autofill to avoid manually entering your email or physical address. To do this, go to Settings > Show advanced settings… > Manage Autofill settings under Passwords and forms and set up the fields you want to use for Autofill.
See what you’re allowing a web page to do. Click on the page icon next to the URL in your browser bar. Check out the page’s cookies, camera settings, popups and notifications, and more. There’s always more, isn’t there?
Use Chrome as a media player. Instead of launching a dedicated player, you can drag almost any photo, music, or video file onto a new tab for Chrome to open it.
Funny, because it’s true.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.