On Your Side Alert: What to do when scammers target your cell phone

On Your Side Alert: What to do when scammers target your cell phone

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Stephanie King says her cell phone is ringing more often these days when she's at home and at work. She says about five calls a week end up being from a scammer trying to pull a fast one. "I've seen an increase. Six months ago, I wasn't getting any," King said.

Experts say Stephanie is not the only one thieves are trying to dial for dollars. A Truecaller survey found more scams are taking place on mobile phones, and millennials are the most vulnerable.

Overall, 27 million Americans lost approximately $7.4 billion in phone scams last year. "On average, the U.S. consumer has lost about $300 per person. Some people have lost maybe a dozen dollars. Some people have lost their life savings," said Tom Hsieh of Truecaller.

Why target cell phones?  Experts say thieves know they're gold to us, which in turn, is gold to them. "Cell phones… There [is] an emotional tie to this phone. The fact that we use them for social media, we use them for shopping, for media activities… Our whole life is through this phone," said Doug Fodeman from The DailyScam.com.

How do the crooks get away with it? "When they do their fraudulent activities, it's typically overseas in the Caribbean, in India and Pakistan, so U.S. authorities have an extremely difficult time hunting them down," Hsieh said.

So if you get a call from "tech support" like this or a call saying you owe the government big bucks, experts say to just do Stephanie did. Hang up.

"These scam calls are incredibly annoying," King said.

Plus, experts say if you don't recognize the number that pops up on your cell phone, you may not want to answer it. If it's important, they will leave a message.

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