Take the mystery out of ghost calls
Amarillo, Texas —
It happens to all of us. Sometimes several times a day when the phone rings and rings and rings.
The phone ringing with likely scammers seems to be a never ending interruption. It is incredibly easy for almost anyone to generate those calls. Yet, it is even easier to stop them.
"I originally thought I was getting phone calls from friends and family,” said one ABC 7 personality who gets calls from suspected scammers daily.
That is just what a ghost or robo caller wants you think. A computer fakes a phone number close to yours.
"The first three numbers of my phone number were similar to the first three of other phone calls coming in,” he said.
You are not the only one annoyed by calls coming in.
ABC 7's morning anchor Anthony Pittman can't stand them.
"I get probably at least five a day,” he said. “Sometimes it's much more. A call at 9:39 a.m., then 9:45 a.m., 9:47 a.m. This is all on the same day. Then they gave me a break for a little while and tried to call me twice at 6:27 p.m. and then 9:57 p.m. Now why that late? I don't get it."
"Here we go again,” said Pittman as the phone rang yet again with a number he did not know.
"Because of the way these systems work,” said Andrew Brandt, a tech guru, “you can mask your phone number. It's super easy and you don't have to have a whole lot of crazy tech to do it."
It's so easy Brandt from Phone Medic of Amarillo shows us how he can do it from his phone system.
"Here's the Discover Card care number,” said Brandt. "We've set that as our out bound caller ID.”
The phone rings and caller ID comes up with Discover Card's number.
“Now I'm getting a call from Discover Card customer care,” said Brandt.
It makes it hard to tell if a number is legit or not since it is so easy to use a fake phone number. Picking up only confirms your number is working, so the calls will continue.
You can buy apps to help you cut down on calls or for free you can do two things. First, if you don't recognize a call:
"Let it go to voicemail,” said Brandt.
"If it's important enough, they will leave you a message,” said Pittman.
Or ensure that number cannot get through again. Just go to recent calls and hit "block" on the number.
"That number will not be able to contact you anymore,” said Brandt.
Anthony has his own way of handling a potential scammer:
"I'm to the point I turn my phone down and have it on vibrate 90 percent of the time,” he said.
Especially since his bed time to be up for the morning show is early evening, a prime time for ghost callers.
To give you an idea how big of a problem ghost calls are, the Federal Trade Commission got four million complaints about them last year. That is only the people who took the time to file a complaint.