Is there anything worse than those annoying robotic spam calls to your cell phone? Actually, there is!
Scammers can easily get your phone number, and they use automated calls to target people and try to steal your money and information. This takes these phone calls from annoying to potentially very risky, explains former CIA officer and author of Agent of Influence, Jason Hanson.
HOW DO SCAMMERS GET MY NUMBER?
"Every time we sign up for an app, or [use our phone number] on social media, or we buy a product, you have no idea who's sharing that data," Jason says. "Most people have no idea how much data is attached to each of our phone numbers."
He explains that as soon as somebody gets ahold of your phone number, they can do a simple internet search and easily find out where you live, who you're married to and other personal details.
"The criminals are so good," the former CIA officer says.
HOW DO I BLOCK SPAM CALLS?
Like Rach says, we've all tried apps that promise to block spam calls, but they don't always work as promised (or at all!).
Luckily, there is one strategy that he says CAN help put a stop to the targeted calls: prevent unwanted callers from getting your number in the first place by using a virtual phone number.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL PHONE NUMBER + HOW DOES IT WORK?
You can create a free virtual phone number using an app like Google Voice, Jason says.
Just choose the city and state you would like your phone number to be attached to and pick from a list of phone numbers with the appropriate area code. Pick whichever one you'd like and attach it to your existing phone number.
Your virtual number works the same way your existing number does. You can use voicemail and text, too.
"When you're buying a product online, you use your virtual phone number. That way they don't have your real phone number," Jason explains. "You're protecting your real phone number, which you only want your friends and family to have."