Police warn residents about 'virtual kidnapping' scams

(MGN photo)

Officials with the Connecticut Better Business Bureau are explaining Connecticut residents on how they can block robocall telephone numbers.

A new initiative by the Federal Trade Commission is helping "to bolster efforts to reduce and prevent the computer-dialed calls," also known as robocalls.

According to CT BBB, there have been more consumers complaints filed to the FTC "about robocalls than any other single issue." Since the start of 2017, there have been 1.9 million complaints made to FTC.

Connecticut BBB spokesman Howard Schwartz said few issues "anger consumers as much as these unwanted calls."

"Robocalls are more than irritating," Schwartz said in a statement on Monday. "They are also at the heart of a huge percentage of attempts to deceive consumers into disclosing personal and financial information."

According to CT BBB, the "most effective method" of blocking robocalls is blacklisting telephone numbers, however, "researchers continue their work on new technology to stop them."

The BBB released the following tips on reducing the frequency of unwanted calls: Get onto the Do Not Call Registry - You can help populate the FTC robocall initiative database by calling 888-382-1222, or registering online at donotcall.gov. You will receive fewer marketing calls and make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones. Don't press any digits on your keypad - Ignore recorded prompts to press digits on your telephone keypad to be taken off their calling list. If you press any keys, it tells the scammers you have an active number, that you are amenable to picking up calls from unknown numbers and willing to following a call to action. Your number will then be sold to other telemarketers and the frequency of calls will increase. Beware of corporate ID fraud - Callers may use the name of a legitimate company to lend credibility to their pitches. Hang up, and if it differs from the number of the legitimate company, report the number to the Do Not Call Registry. Watch out for "bait and switch" - Some callers will ask something such as "Is Jane there?" When you tell them they have the wrong number, they change the subject and may ask a question such as "While you're on the phone, have you thought about installing new carpets in your home?" Don't pick up the phone - If you don't know the incoming number, let it ring. If the call goes to voicemail you may be able to discern what sort of a call it is."Law enforcement, technical experts, regulators and industry have been working diligently to stop the illegal marketing calls, and have had success in tracking down and closing robocall and live marketing call operations," the Connecticut Better Business Bureau said in a statement on Monday.

To stop robocalls by reporting them, click here.

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