“This is the second notice that the factory warranty on your vehicle may have expired …” Ah, the old factory warranty notice robocall scam. Your first thought might be, “But my car isn’t under warranty.” Or, “Second notice? I don’t even remember the first.” This robocall is so common and you may have received it so many times by now, you no longer flinch. Scammers inundate us with these attacks over and over not because they’re effective at fooling large swaths of the population, but because they like to play the odds. To hear the entirety and see the source phone number of this particular version of the vehicle warranty scam — our scam of the week — check it out right here.
In this article, we cover:
- The factory warranty notice robocall scam.
- How one YouTuber is fighting phone scams with a glitter bomb.
- Free resources and services to fight the scourge of robocalls.
According to the FCC: “Auto-warranty robocalls were the top unwanted call complaint filed by consumers with the FCC last year, and the trend continued in January 2021.”
These robocalls generally “warn” of the same issue, an expiring car warranty, but have some notable differences to make it trickier to catch them. We’ve identified countless variants of this scam, including “Susie with the Vehicle Service Department,” “Alison from the Warranty Department,” “the second notice,” “the urgent message for the vehicle owner,” and “we’ve been trying to reach you.” Any of those sound familiar?
Robodialer software can place millions of calls for a fraction of a penny per call. The cost is so low and profit margins so great, that if they can deceive just a few unfortunate souls, the bad guys consider it a success. Further, the definition of “success” isn’t always limited to defrauding someone in the moment. Success might be simply connecting with a live person. It confirms that a potential mark is in possession of that number.
Now you’re on a list to be targeted by other scams until just the right recording strikes a certain chord with you. It only needs to be something that just happens to hold some relevancy to your current situation. It may be hard to imagine, but the global population is so vast, there are people still out there who haven’t heard the old factory warranty scam, and so happen to be in the middle of sorting out a car repair that may cripple their finances. Now in rolls an imaginary life raft in the form of some extended warranty. And because of the timing and coincidental relevance of the call, that person falls hook, line, and sinker.
Don’t get too comfortable. Smart people get compromised every single day.
Exposing the Robocall Menace to Society
Former NASA engineer and viral YouTuber Mark Rober published a video on the very subject of phone scams just recently. He repurposed his wonderful porch pirate glitter bomb for use against our sworn enemies: the people behind robocall scams. He has struck viral gold once again by targeting a very familiar menace to society and garnering more than 28 million views with this one video. The big takeaway is that the victims aren’t dumb for falling victim; oftentimes they’re caught in an extremely vulnerable moment. Particularly during this arduous past year, there is plenty of grief and fear for perpetrators to exploit.
Another takeaway from Rober’s video is how savage these fraudsters are. They don’t care one iota what hardships their victims are going through, they will persist until they’ve cheated them out of everything they have and go to great lengths to cover their tracks.
How YOU Can Stop Robocalls
Short of employing the savvy of a devilishly smart NASA engineer with a master’s from USC and a vendetta against ne’er-do-wells, how can you protect yourself from the perils of robocall scams? The great news is there are several free services and resources you can employ right now.
Your first resource should be YouMail’s Robocall Index. Every month we update it with the latest data and trends that major news outlets — The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more — turn to for their robocall reporting. As you can see, as of February 2021, robocalls have been on the rise nationwide since the pandemic first hit back in March of 2020. It’s finally climbed all the way back to pre-pandemic levels, which likely bears out in how much your phone has been needless ringing with junk lately. If you want to take a deeper dive, you can filter the numbers by month and/or location, and see breakouts by city, category, and even search specific robocall numbers.
To block the vehicle warranty scam and other unwanted robocall scams like it, we recommend YouMail robocall blocking. The app and robocall service is free, along with better visual voicemail, accurate caller ID, and personalized voicemail greetings for each caller. The same database that powers our Robocall Index gives our app all of its special powers. We protect over 350 million phone numbers, have answered well over 10 billion calls, and stopped more than a billion robocalls, meaning our data is unrivaled. YouMail even plays an out-of-service message to known attackers, effectively removing your number from their lists and future attacks.
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