Scammers are constantly looking for ways to find new potential victims to target. One of the most common ways they do this is by purchasing phone numbers to call. These phone numbers can come from a variety of sources, including data brokers, illegal websites, and even legitimate companies that sell their customer data.
In this article, we will explore where and how scammers purchase phone numbers to call, the legality of this practice, and what steps you can take to protect yourself from these scams.
One of the most common sources of phone numbers for scammers is data brokers. Data brokers are companies that collect and sell consumer information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data. They obtain this information from a variety of sources, including public records, social media, surveys, and other sources.
Many data brokers operate legally and provide data to legitimate businesses for marketing and other purposes. However, some data brokers may sell consumer information to scammers or other fraudulent actors. This can happen if a scammer poses as a legitimate business or if the data broker is not diligent in vetting its customers.
Another source of phone numbers for scammers is illegal websites. These websites may offer phone numbers for sale or provide access to databases of consumer information that can be used for fraudulent purposes. These websites are often difficult to track down and shut down, making them a lucrative source of phone numbers for scammers.
In some cases, scammers may purchase phone numbers from legitimate companies that sell their customer data. For example, a scammer could pose as a telemarketer or other business and purchase phone numbers from a list broker or other data provider. In these cases, the scammer is often able to obtain a large number of phone numbers that are more likely to be valid than those obtained from illegal websites or other sources.
Is It Legal?
The legality of purchasing phone numbers for telemarketing or other purposes can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances. In the United States, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established rules governing telemarketing calls and the use of consumer data. The FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule requires telemarketers to obtain a consumer's express written consent before making certain types of calls, including calls that use prerecorded messages or automatic dialing systems.
However, there are many loopholes and exemptions in these rules, and some scammers may be able to operate without violating the law. For example, scammers may use fake caller ID information to make it appear that their calls are coming from a legitimate source, or they may use robocalling technology to place thousands of calls per day with minimal effort.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from phone scams and unwanted telemarketing calls. Here are a few tips:
Be cautious when giving out your phone number. Avoid giving your phone number to businesses or websites that you do not trust.
Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. This will help reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive.
Use a call-blocking app. Many smartphones have built-in call-blocking features, or you can download an app that will block known scam numbers.
Be skeptical of unsolicited phone calls. If you receive a call from an unknown number, do not provide any personal information or payment information over the phone.
Report suspicious calls to the FTC. If you receive a call that you suspect is a scam, report it to the FTC. This will help the FTC identify and shut down fraudulent telemarketing operations.