Unwanted phone calls spike, scammers get sophisticated as holidays near

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If you recently received a phone call from the Dominican Republic, or even your own phone number but with a different area code, you’re not alone.

We’ve been hearing from many people about these calls in just the past few days.

The most important thing is to never answer a call if the number doesn’t look familiar. Calling the number back is also ill-advised, because that can cost you.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau says it’s received reports of calls from an 809 area code. In some cases, they’re identified as coming from the Dominican Republic.

BBB warns that calling back that number can lead to high charges on your phone bill.

Some have received calls with the caller ID showing their own number but with an 809 area code.

Cybercrimes expert Chris Duque says thieves get more aggressive during this time of the year.

“The scammers know that people have some extra money available, and they’ll try to be the Grinch during Christmas and try to scam everybody,” he said.

Duque adds that the caller is getting valuable information as soon as you answer your phone. It’s now established that there’s someone who answers it, so the caller can sell your number. Even a brief conversation can provide scammers more information about you, which they can sell.

“You can sell that information on the dark web,” Duque said.

“So scammers are paying other scammers who are getting information from all these phone calls?” KHON2 asked.

“Correct. There is some kind of honor among thieves,” Duque replied.

Duque points out that caller IDs can easily be spoofed or faked, so seeing your number on the caller ID should not tempt you to answer it. He says in many cases, these calls are done by a computer trying to see if anyone on the other end will answer.

BBB says don’t answer calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize.

If you get an automated message asking you to press “9” to be taken off their call list, BBB says it’s best to just hang up. Pressing your keypad is another way to let scammers know that they’ve reached an active number.

BBB also recommends that you join the Do Not Call Registry, which will cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. You can also report numbers that violate the Do Not Call Registry.Related Link: DoNotCall.gov

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