The "Hi, this is Ann" Robocall Scam - How it Works

She calls from all different area codes. She calls at all different hours. An uncomfortable silence, and then the same voice always says, "Hi, this is Ann." After about 10 or 20 calls, you wish you knew how to make it stop.

Usually at this point, I hang up. Most of us know that this is a robocall scam by now. But how does it work?

The "Hi, this is Ann" scam has two common approaches: the health insurance scam and the account services scam.


Ann's Health Insurance Scam:


"Ann" calls you up to offer you health insurance. The truth is, there is no health insurance here. It is a ploy to get your sensitive information, like social security number, date of birth, and address.

It's very simple: they collect sensitive information about you under the guise of selling you health insurance. Once they have this information, they can use it to take out loans in your name, or sell the information to other scammers.

Ann's Account Services Scam

This is also a relatively simple scam. It's a ploy to get your credit card number so that "Ann" can go on a shopping spree with it- nothing more.

Unfortunately, it works on a lot of people.

The scammers offer you a better rate on your credit card. Once they get you excited about the new rate, they ask for the credit card number- then use it to purchase lots of expensive items, usually overseas.

How are they calling from so many different numbers?


This technique is called "spoofing". They don't really own all the phone numbers they are calling from. Instead, they use technology to make up a number to send to your caller ID. This could be a made-up phone number, or the number of some unsuspecting random person. They can even spoof the numbers of legitimate companies and government offices, so don't trust that it's really the government calling you. It's always safer to end the call, and call the supposed government office / company office back using a number you trust.

Often they will use a phone number that is very similar to yours to make it appear that you're in the same neighborhood. This is called "Neighbor Spoofing".

Unfortunately, this makes the scammers very hard to track. Do not attempt to call back the number that called you, or harass whatever unfortunate person truly possesses the phone number. I've gotten a couple angry "return" phone calls after scammers spoofed their calls with my phone number.

How can I make it stop?


Since the phone numbers are spoofed, it's really hard to make it stop.

The scammers track who picks up the calls, so if you don't pick up, this will reduce the amount of robocalls.

Unfortunately, many of us have to pick up every call in case it is a new client or an emergency. I pick up a call from "Ann" several times a day. At this time, there's just no way around it.

If these phone scams did not work, no one would do them anymore. So for now, the best way to get Ann to stop calling you is to not fall for it, and make sure your friends and family don't either.

Edited to add: A reader let me know about Nomorobo. This app works by blocking numbers, so if a robo calls from a spoofed number that is also a real one, it may block a real one too. Still, if Ann is driving you batty, you may want to give this a try.


Other Scams:


The Chinese Voicemail Scam: A nasty scam targeting Chinese immigrants
Scams that Target the Elderly: How to protect grandma
Your Password in the Subject Line: A jarring email scam which uses an old password to spook you into paying

Tips and Tools to Monitor your Accounts:


Scammers, skimmers, and credit card thieves love it when people don't monitor their accounts! Here are some tools which will make it easier for you to keep an eye on things.


  • Trim Bill Negotiator - This app is great for going over your transactions. Nobody wants to log in to each of their credit card accounts every day to check that all their activity is legit. The app also gives you need graphs to compare your spending, and has an automatic bill negotiator to lower your cable and phone bills.
  • Personal Capital's  Net Worth Calculator - The ultimate bird's eye view of your investment, banking and credit card accounts.
  • Swipe your Credit Card, not your Debit Card! - If someone does grab your card info and goes on a shopping spree in your name, it is much easier to fix the issue if they did so on a credit card, versus a debit card.
  • If someone on the phone is asking you to pay via Western Union, Green Dot Money Card, iTunes Gift card, think long and hard about whether it is a scam. Legit places accept legit payment methods! What does the IRS or the Health Insurance Marketplace want with iTunes Gift Cards?!?!


Money with Meow is a website devoted to helping people become good with money. I started this website in 2017 to share what I've learned (usually the hard way) so that others can be empowered. Start with the Personal Finance Basics to get started.

 Some links on this website may be affiliate links, but I'd never push a product I don't use myself. Trim and Personal Capital are both apps that I personally use.

1 comment:

  1. You can prevent these calls with YouMail, TrueCaller, Nomrobo (which works on land lines also because it is a cloud solution), Hiya, and several other services.

    ReplyDelete

AddToAny