Hello, Is Anyone There? The Scoop on Scams and Ghost Calls

 

How many times a day do you get phone calls, but when you answer, nobody is there?

It probably goes something like this – the phone rings, you pick it up and say “Hello” but nobody answers. This is often termed a “ghost call”, and they can be annoying.

To fix this, you stop answering calls from distant area codes. You check before answering to see if you recognize the number and it looks like the caller is local. But it’s another ghost call!  This is called ‘Caller ID Spoofing” – that’s when a caller deliberately falsifies the phone number on your caller display. Scammers have ways to make these incoming calls look like numbers similar to yours – sometimes by showing a caller ID that starts with your local area code – to entice you to pick up the call.

 

Who is making these ghost calls?   

As it turns out, although nobody answers your “Hello”, there probably is “someone” on the other end of the line: an automated computer system that’s calling your number — and tens of thousands of others — to build a list of live targets for theft.

That initial call you get, with silence on the other end, is the first reconnaissance call that scammers do. They’re trying to see if the number they are calling is associated with a human on the other end. If you even cough, it knows you are there.

The next step for them is to attempt to gather personal information like your bank or credit card account number, date of birth, Social Security Number, credit score etc. They often do this by giving you a call with a prerecorded voice. For example, “We’re calling with an important message about your debit card. If you are the cardholder please stay on the line and press 1. Otherwise, please have the cardholder call us at 1-877…”

 

Don’t call them back!

Another reason you may be getting the call with no response is when calls are part of a massive, international scam called “Wangiri” which is a Japanese word that means “one cut”. The scamming companies rely on people calling the numbers back in order to make money. “This is basically a mobile premium scam, what happens is somebody calls you, lets the phone ring once and they do it multiple times,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Delia Rickard told Hack News. “If you call them back, you may be charged a premium. Much of the revenue from these calls go to the scammer.”

 

So with all these calls targeting you, what can you do about it?

1stDon’t pick-up or answer a call unless you recognize the number or are expecting a call at that particular moment. No one is going to call with an emergency and then not leave a message. Most “unknown” calls are from bill collectors, scammers, harassment or wrong numbers. Since it is your phone and it is for your convenience then you can choose when you answer it and when you do not.

 

2nd – If you do pick up accidentally – Just Hang Up

The FTC is trying to combat the rising number of illegal automated phone calls. “It is the No. 1 consumer complaint that we receive,” says Patty Hsue, an attorney who leads the FTC’s effort against robocalls. The agency receives an average of 170,000 complaints per month about robocalls”, she related to  NPR’s Audie Cornish. The FTC recommends that consumers “just hang up” on the robocalls.

“We don’t want consumers to engage in any way with robocallers,” Hsue says. “A lot of times when you get a robocall you have the option of pressing 1 for more information or pressing 2 to ask to be removed from the list. In either case, pressing 1 or 2 basically lets the robocaller know that it’s a live person on the other line who’s willing to engage and that most probably will lead to additional robocalls.”

 

3rd – If you think it may be a legitimate call, hang up and then check the website of the organization calling. Use the website contact number to talk with a service representative. If you can’t find a website, then check the number online and see if it is reported as a scam.

 

Safety tips on handling Robo or “Ghost” calls from the FTC:

  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, a mother’s maiden name, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • Use extreme caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password. 
  • If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FTC. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

 

How do I stop telemarketers and scammers?

The first thing to do is immediately block the caller number. You can also register your numbers with the national Do Not Call list at no cost. The national Do Not Call list protects both landline and wireless phone numbers. You can register your numbers by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY) or https://www.donotcall.gov

 

Robo, telemarketers and “Ghost” calls are not only an inconvenience, they can also be extremely damaging if you don’t handle them correctly. Please take the time to check the number before answering and remind your family and friends to do the same!

 

Much of the information presented in this blog was originated by, NPR, Hack and the FTC.

 

 

 

7 Ways to Tighten Your Home Security for the Holidays

Every year at this time you’ll read stories about the increase in home burglaries while homeowners are away. Studies show that increase is not always fact. Instead, many factors affect burglaries in different communities and when they occur.

21908228_sStill, it’s smart to play it safe with home security around the holidays. After all, you may have extra valuables inside after buying all of your gifts, and you may be absent more often as you attend holiday parties or head to grandmother’s house.

According to FBI data, in 2010, there were an estimated 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property, an average dollar loss of $2,119 each. In the Raleigh-Cary area, including Franklin, Johnston, and Wake counties, there were 628 burglaries per 100,000 residents in 2010.

Keep your holiday gifts and your home safe this season with a few simple measures:

  • Light your home. The strings of Christmas lights may bring good cheer, but they don’t keep burglars out. Mount exterior lights on your home, out of reach. These can be put on a timer or used as motion detectors. Put indoor lights on timers.
  • Burglars don’t want to spend all day trying to break in. Keep your doors and windows locked and install deadbolts on exterior doors, making it tougher to gain entry.
  • Check your doors. Your lock might be amazing, but if your door is weak, a strong kick will give a burglar easy access. Make sure your door is solid wood or has a solid wood core. You can also consider a fiberglass or metal door.
  • Trim the shrubbery. Don’t make it easy for burglars to hide behind bushes as they work to open a window. Keep the landscaping trimmed so it’s easier for a neighbor to spot the suspicious person standing outside your home.
  • Install a home alarm system. More than 90 percent of burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Effective alarms don’t just make noise, but alert emergency services. Many insurance companies offer a discount on homeowners insurance if you have an alarm.
  • Hide and lock your valuables. Once inside, a burglar doesn’t want to take too long. He or she knows to check the desk and the bedroom for important documents and jewelry. Put your important papers and expensive items in other locations and hide them well.
  • Heading out of town? Be sure to:
    • Have your mail held, or have a neighbor pick it up.
    • Schedule deliveries. Packages are at risk this time of year sitting on your front porch. Try to time deliveries so that they don’t arrive when you are out of town.
    • Leave blinds in their usual positions so it appears you are home.
    • Ask trustworthy neighbors to keep an eye on your home. Letting a few people know you are gone will help keep them on alert for something amiss.

Questions about home security? Give us a call: (919) 387-1800.

Four Reasons to Rely on 24-Hour Security Monitoring

Affiliated Central - Monitoring Center

Whether you’re fast asleep in your own bed in Raleigh or away on an international vacation, it’s important to know your home security system will work the way you expect.

One expectation most people have for home or business security systems is a response to the alarm — no matter what time it occurs. This 24-hour security monitoring means authorities will be notified as needed when the alarm is activated at your home or office.

Monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. Here are some other advantages to making sure 24-hour monitoring is part of your security system:

  • True Protection — Some homeowners assume a burglar alarm making a lot of noise is enough protection. In truth, like car alarms, home alarms are often ignored by people nearby, who assume it is going off by accident.
  • Other Home Issues – While not as urgent as a fire or break-in, a gas leak can cause serious problems in your home. Monitoring systems can be set up to alert you in case of a gas leak or to let you know your freezer is no longer on — indicating a power outage.
  • Assistance — Monitoring systems can also notify people that you need assistance in case of a fall or other personal accident.
  • Sleeping Easy — Monitoring means someone is always keeping an eye (and ear) on your home or business. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

How Monitoring Works
Secur-Tek works with Affiliated Central to monitor your home or business. The team at Affiliated Central is CSAA Five Diamond Certified and uses the most up-to-date technologies including live digital video. The company has installed a redundancy system for its telephone and automation, ensuring dependability.

Secur-Tek, Inc. does not require a long-term monitoring contract when you have your home or business connected to our monitoring services.

While most security companies offer 24-hour monitoring, some companies may consider it an add-on feature. When contacting a security company to keep your home or business safe, be sure to confirm you are receiving the service you deserve.

Business Security, Monitoring, and Customer Service

One Stop ShopSecur-Tek provides state-of-the-art business security and home automation services to residential and commercial customers in Apex, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, and central North Carolina. We provide commercial customers of all sizes with everything needed to minimize risks and keep businesses safe. You can focus on running your businesses while we provide the security expertise and systems you need. We can provide your business with fire protection systems, access control, burglar alarms, security cameras (CCTV and video), and background music.

Fire Protection – Alarms, Smoke, and Sprinkler Waterflow Detectors

Even if you have fire insurance, it’s far better to prevent a fire than to have one, make an insurance claim, and try to rebuild from the ashes. Many businesses never recover from a fire. You can get protected against total disaster with our fire code compliant fire detection systems. Manual pull fire alarms, supervised smoke detectors, and waterflow monitors all work together. Manual pull alarms are like the ones in many public buildings—once pulled the horns go off and the fire department is alerted. Supervised smoke detectors allow a fast response before the fire gets out of control. Water is a fire’s worst enemy but it’s not always your friend. Waterflow monitors minimize the water damage and flooding that happens when sprinklers go off; water can cause more damage than fire.

Access Control Systems

You can get access control systems to monitor your business. You can monitor your property (onsite or remotely) and employees and keep unwanted people from causing trouble. Locks with passcodes or keycards will let authorized people in and keep the bad guys out. Our software can be loaded onto the PC you already have. We have a wide variety of solutions and price points so let us know what you need and we’ll customize a solution just for you.

Burglar Alarms and Monitoring

Burglars are always a danger to your valuable inventory and business property. Our burglar alarms and systems let you know when someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can get reports of exactly when your burglar alarm is armed and disarmed as well as who is accessing it. This is perfect for knowing when your business opens and closes. You’ll know if someone disarms the alarm late at night or before regular opening hours.

CCTV Security Cameras and Video Storage

Burglars aren’t the only source of theft. Shoplifters and even employees can be a major problem. Protecting yourself with camera monitoring is smart because it discourages theft; stealing is a lot less appealing to thieves if they know they’re being watched! Security footage is indispensable when you need evidence to show a judge. Camera evidence is hard to deny and will help to convict a thief and protect your business from theft, false claims, and other liabilities. We can set you up with 1 to 100 CCTV cameras, PC-based systems, and remote monitoring. One of our most popular packages is Honeywell’s 4-Camera Internet system—you can even monitor your business on your phone!

Business Background Music Source

Having a safe and secure business is important and it’s also key to provide an environment that makes customers want to spend money. Background music helps you control the mood and image of your business. We can supply all the relaxing and professional background music you need—perfect for offices and stores that need to convey professionalism.

To learn more about how your business can benefit from using security and home automation services, contact Secur-Tek at 919-387-1800.

Home Security – Systems for Every Budget

First AlertAs a homeowner, the notion of safety and security is one of your top priorities. No one wants to come home to find that they have been burglarized. People who have had this awful experience say they felt their lives were completed violated, as some stranger had gone into their private home and rummaged through their personal belongings.

One way to bring you some peace of mind is to install a home security system to protect your home. There are different types of security packages available that offer various levels of protection. Some systems not only protect the home and notify you of any unwanted entrance or breach, but can alert you if there is a fire or other dangerous situation at the house. Motion detectors can also be installed. In most circumstances, they are effective even in pet-friendly homes.

Other options for home security can include health safety. For example, if you have an elderly family member, a system can be set up to alert you should that person leave the house or get out of bed.

Home security systems today use advanced technologies to protect your property and your loved ones. Alarms are sent to the authorities as well as to you via cell phone. You may have the option to view your home (through the cameras installed) via the Internet from any remote location.

There are many choices out there to accommodate your comfort level.

For more information on home security, contact Secur-Tek at 919-387-1800.