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Authorities: Watch out for Illegal robocalls on rise

It is not uncommon for cellphone users to receive unwanted calls, but some people might have noticed these calls becoming more frequent because of robocalls.

According to an AARP press release, the Federal Communications Commission predicts robocalls will become more frequent in the next year, rising from 48 billion to 60 billion, with nearly 50 percent of last year’s robocalls being illegal.

“Your dentist’s office can robocall you with an appointment reminder or an airline with news about a flight change,” said interim associate director of communications for AARP Alabama Evey Owen. “Legal robocalls can be beneficial, but illegal robocalls can be both frustrating and dangerous.”

Illegal robocalls are company contacts which have been unauthorized or theft and scams. 

Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett said anyone can be a victim of these scams, but those who are most susceptible are usually older people who are not as familiar with technology.

He said Russellville has had some cases where citizens were scammed through phone calls, and he personally knew someone who had been a victim of these calls.

According to the AARP press release, scammers will often fake the number they are calling with, so it appears as a local number and people are more likely to answer the call. AARP said a survey discovered people are more likely to answer a call if it is from an area they are familiar with.

Hargett said the first thing he would suggest people do to avoid these phone scams is get on the “do not call” list. He said this will not stop all fraud calls, but it will cut down on them.

After that, he said the best tip to avoid being scammed or being a victim of fraud is to be vigilant in following up with what the caller is saying and asking the caller for their information so they can be reached again.

After getting off the phone, contact the company or authority the caller claimed to be in contact over the phone directly, so there is no doubt in the authenticity of the call. 

Hargett also said it is important to never give out information to an unknown phone number.

AARP suggests letting unknown numbers go to voicemail or not responding and reporting scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission or the state attorney general.