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Car warranty scam robocalls: Here’s why you get so many (and how to stop them)

Kim Komando
·5 min read

The other day I called a friend. After a few rings, her old school answering machine answered. “Hello,” I said. “I’m calling today with important news about your car’s extended warranty.”

She picked up immediately and yelled, “Stop calling me!” I had a good laugh, and it’s no wonder that set her off. Auto warranty scam calls have to be the most irritating and intrusive in the history of telemarketing.

You don’t have to put up with robocalls. You might even be able to get compensated for receiving robocalls. Here are five proven methods to make robocalls stop for good; #3 covers how to report robocalls and get compensated.

Scam texts are a real pain, too. Tap or click for the mistake landing you with even more junk text messages. I bet you’ve done this one thing before.

While your car's warranty might have expired, these calls are deceptive and illegal. I have a few tips to help stop the flood.

How do they get away with car warranty scam calls?

This scam isn’t new, but it has reached new heights. The Federal Communications Commission says auto warranty robocalls were the top call complaint filed by consumers in 2020, and the trend is continuing this year. You can bet these crooks are taking home a ton of money or they wouldn’t use this tactic.

While ignoring the National Do Not Call Registry, scammers are trying to sell you a $3,000 or so car warranty. They lead you to believe that you’re extending your current warranty. This is deceptive and, yes, illegal.

EXPERT HELP: Sign up for my free newsletters and get tips like this delivered every day to your inbox.

To make things even more frustrating, you can’t simply block the calls. The system spoofs area codes and numbers so that you’re never called by the same number twice.

If you wait for the operator and ask to be taken off the call list, it’s bad news. You have just verified to the robocaller that you’re a real person. That means even more calls.

What if you take the bait and buy a plan? You probably won’t realize it was all a scam until weeks or months later when you have a problem with your car and realize the warranty doesn’t exist.

Security smarts: It’s shockingly easy for a hacker to reroute your calls and texts. Try these secret iPhone codes to see if it happened to you.

What can you do?

Your best move when you realize it’s a robocall is to hang up the phone immediately. There is one thing that you should never do: press any numbers on your phone during the call.

Many of these calls are automated and ask you to press a button to continue or opt out. Don't do it. Again, this confirms you have a working number, and you will receive even more calls.

Here are a few more steps you can take:

• Protect personal information: Never hand over details like your Social Security number, credit card information, driver’s license number, or bank account information.

• Double-check: If you believe you’re talking to someone from the dealership you purchased your vehicle, hang up and call back using a number you verify on the company’s website.

• Don’t press any buttons: Pressing buttons during a robocall could lead to more. Just hang up the phone.

• Screen incoming calls: If you have caller ID and don’t recognize an incoming call, don’t answer. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can investigate the number to ensure it’s legit before calling them back. A quick Google search can tell you a lot.

• Be careful with all numbers: Be cautious even if a number appears authentic. Thieves are good at spoofing phone numbers to make it look like a company you can trust is calling.

• File a complaint: While it takes a few minutes, this can help officials track down scammers and end these dangerous calls. You can file a complaint with the FCC here. Or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission here.

Have a minute? Three quick security changes you need to make today

Use your phone’s built-in features

One quick step you can do now is silence unknown callers. Instead of seeing a robocall come through, it is silenced and sent to your voicemail. You’ll see it in your recent calls list.

On iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Phone.

  • Scroll down and select Silence Unknown Callers.

On Android:

  • Go to Settings.

  • Then, tap on Block numbers.

  • Toggle the “Block unknown callers” button on to enable the feature.

Note: I recently took my mother to the emergency room. When the doctor in charge tried to call me to let me know how my mother was doing, he went straight to my voice mail. The major downside to “Silence Unknown Callers” is that it truly works, so use it guardedly.

Need a hand with a slow PC, smartphone issues or a software problem you can't crack? Post your tech questions for concrete answers from me and other tech pros. Visit my Q&A Forum and get tech help now.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Car warranty scams: Why you get so many calls and how to stop them