We all get those silly spam calls from time to time. Some people get them as often as every day while others get them only on occasion, but the message is still usually the same. It’s a “car extended warranty” call, a “cut your debt in half” call, or a similar story. Young Adults and Kids alike love to pick up the phone to these calls and say silly or ridiculous phrases or words to try and crack the person on the other end of the line; however, this innocent response has now become all too dangerous. 

AI technology has adapted to now have the ability to mimic the voices of the people you are closest to which has unlocked a new level of scamming. On July 19th, 2023, CBS released a story recounting a terrifying experience of a mother, who later spoke in front of the U.S. Senate, about a call she received from such scammers. After the mother picked up the phone, she could hear the exact voice of her 15 year old daughter begging for help and to wire her money to “release her from the bad guys that had her”. The entire duration of the call, the daughter was safely in her bed. 

Not all phone scams will use AI technology, but a large number have begun using it as part of their system. Due to the number of physical calls dropping in the younger generations, scammers have needed to become more efficient. According to Kathy Stokes, the Director of Fraud and Prevention at AARP, younger people are less likely to fall for these scams compared to older people; however, people ages 60 and older have more to lose than the younger generations. Due to this, we compiled a list of tips to avoid scam calls altogether to practice and share with your loved ones of all ages! 

Preventing Scam Calls:

  • Don’t pick up the phone! 
    • This may seem like a silly or simple step, but it is the best way to avoid being scammed. With the invention of Caller ID, you can see who is calling. If you don’t know the number, do not pick up the phone! 
  • If you choose to answer an unknown number, don’t press numbers to navigate automated menus and do not say a word until live personnel speak to you. 
    • If no one says anything within 3 seconds, hang up the phone. Even if they do not catch your voice, some scammers can hack into your phone instead and gather information. 
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone in response to a request you were not expecting. 
    • No organization needs your Social Security number or banking information. 
    • In the event of a warranty exchange for a product that is over a year old, Damsel in Defense will never ask for your card information over the phone unless preferred by the customer. We will first and foremost send a secure email to make payments. You can learn more about our here.
  • Resist acting immediately 
    • Reputable businesses will never pressure you into paying for something right away. Calls concerning “lottery” or “sweepstakes” may pressure you into paying fees or giving away your other personal information right away. 
  • How Scammers tell you to pay 
    • Scammers will often ask you to pay with cryptocurrency, a wire transfer service, a payment app, or a gift card. These make the scam harder to trace. 
    • Never send a check to a non-reputable business 

Preparing in the event you receive an AI call:

The best way to be prepared is to always follow step 1: Never pick up unknown numbers. All phones have Caller ID and the ability to create contacts for this purpose and we always recommend using it. What happens, however, when you receive a call from a number you think you recognize or you are expecting a call from a business whose number you have not saved? Follow these simple tips to stay prepared:

  • Establish a code word with your family and friends 
    • AI scammers typically hang up at the first sign of pushback or trouble. This is why code words or even asking a question that only your loved one would know work perfectly.
  • Hang Up Immediately
    • And then call the loved one’s actual cell phone or home phone number. Chances are, they are safe and sound like the 15 year old from the true story above. 
    • If they do not answer, call other family members or friends of your loved one to confirm location. Never call the same number back 
  • Block any attempted Spam callers 
    • After hanging up, block the number. This will reduce the number of future spam calls 
  • Know how to report AI callers 
    • We recommend reporting directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
    • You can also reach out to your state’s attorney general for further assistance