Each one of us has felt the familiar urge to call back an unknown number at some point. Some of us might even have relented and redialed the number we did not answer first. Cyber security experts strictly warn against doing this and list numerous reasons why it is a bad idea. FTC gets numerous complaints every day regarding getting spammed or scammed just because a person called back an unknown number. So, what are the 5 reasons you shouldn’t call an unknown number back?
Robocalls detect your number
Robocalls are often made by AI (artificial intelligence) machines, which call out random combinations of numbers. They do not know whether the number is active or a real person is picking up the number. If you call back the number and talk, they understand it is a person and trace most of your details using your telephone number.
They create a user profile for you that states your earning capacity and what you might be interested in buying. They will use your telephone number to track the various services you have subscribed to like a magazine, a spa, or a gaming site.
The information is helpful for the marketers to target and calls you for selling products you might be interested in but don't need. For example, they can offer another call for you, listing a massive discount on a colossal spa package or sending you a new magazine annual subscription for an unbelievably low price.
The offers might seem beneficial at first. But they want your email id and payment details which they will misuse in various ways to add extra cost, debit amount from your account automatically, and even fund terrorism under your name.
You might have to pay for the call
When you call back a number, you might think it is from your kid's school or your doctor. But such people will call you back if they have to discuss important things with you. Marketing calls that cleverly mask the first digits and show your area code or city code often are routed from spammers.
They talk to you for a few minutes analyzing your behavior. They cut your call, stating it is a wrong number in a few minutes or fake interest to continue your conversation. It is dangerous either way because they have chances to connect your calls to paying lines like adult telephone lines.
You pay for every minute you talk, and they will later blackmail you, stating they will prove you visited such adult sites. Most probably, the user will not know they are being charged for the call until they receive the next telephone bill, which most people don't check carefully.
People who fake interest in your relationship try to gather numerous details from you. "Are you from Boston? I am from there too. Which area? What is your family name? Is your mother the daughter of XX? No? Oh, does she belong to this family? I know them well?"
The above conversation seems cordial. But the scammers have indirectly extracted your mother's maiden name and place of birth which is a security question for most of your services. Beware of such calls and never engage in chit-chat that may reveal any kind of your personal information.
Scammers run various tricks
Scammers use various tricks to lure you into believing things when you call back. Calls stating that someone is in grave danger, there’s help needed to contact the police, or calls saying you have issues with some government agencies are common.
Scammers duplicate the telephone numbers to match the numbers of your dear ones (who are already a victim as their number has been found and used). They try to lure in everybody in their contact list to get as much money as possible. You call back suspecting it is someone you know, and they use various pleas to make you stay longer on the call or get you to come to help them.
If you go out of your way to help them, you either get robbed or kidnapped. If you stay for more than a minute on the line, they collect multiple data about you and use them for identity theft. It is best to avoid calling back unknown numbers in all cases to stay on the safer side. If it is the number of someones you know, try not to panic and double-check the info, contact the necessary authorities that will help.
Official services never ask you to call back
Many people call back thinking they missed important calls from their bank, insurance company, or hospital. Remember, it is in the protocol to never send an SMS to call back. If it is an official service like a bank or an interview call, the company will call you back. You never have to worry about missing their call and call back the unknown number.
Scammers will trace your call
There are plenty of ways to prevent your number from being displayed when you call back. Use apps like CoverMe if you feel like calling back a number that just contacted you to hide your number. Otherwise, they might trace your call, location, and many other details.
If you suspect the call you missed is from someone you may know, note the number and check it on Nuwber or PhoneHistory to see whether the number belongs to a person you know. Call back only if you know the person, and avoid contacting the number if the call is from a stranger.
Many of us don't know the mobile numbers of even our loved ones as we are used to picking up looking at their name or picture on our mobile screen. Scammers use this weakness to fake most digits of the numbers and make you wonder whether you know this person and why you shouldn't call back.
People often argue that friends or colleagues who change the number might call to inform. Using Nuwber in such cases is also quite handy to help you quickly identify the new owner of the number. Ask your friends to tell you in person or simply text from their old number regarding the number change.
Stay extra safe and resist the urge to call back unknown numbers to not give the chance for the scammers to exploit you cleverly.