SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Phone scams seem to be running rampant during the pandemic and one suburban woman fell victim in a whole new way.
Linda Prince, 69, lives in her Schaumburg apartment and juggles several health issues. She also has two grandsons who are e-learning at her home. Add to that, the constant phone interruptions in her home from scammers. Prince said they call 50 times a day at all times of the day, six days a week — and she can’t make them stop.
Ladonna Raeh is Prince’s daughter.
“One day my mother called me and it sounded like she was about to cry,” Raeh said.
“It starts at 7 a.m. goes until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. asking me did I call them.”
Prince’s landline has been spoofed. It was stolen by hackers who use her name and real phone number to dial up potential future victims. People from South Carolina, Florida, even Mexico and Canada are outraged when Prince’s information comes up on their Caller ID. They answer and then the line goes dead. So they call her back.
“I’ve been cursed out and called names,” she said.
She’s even been accused more than seven times of being “the other woman” and she has been threatened.
But the real concern is that her whole life is tied to that number, even her Life Alert. She uses her cell only for emergencies when she’s out of the house. Her doctors have her landline and she is speaking with their offices regularly. She doesn’t want to give it up.
Raeh filed a complaint with the FCC, who responded with tips on dealing with phone scams. Her phone provider told her to block the calls. She can block up to 25 but then her voicemail eventually fills up too.
“It’s been a headache,” Prince said.
The Better Business Bureau explains it’s likely Prince made the mistake of picking up her phone one day. And the robot on the other end used her name and phone number rather than used her to execute their next scam.
The FCC said in 2020 alone they have received 40,000 complaints from consumers whose phone numbers have been used illegally by scammers.
New rules take affect next summer forcing phone providers to put a new program in place that should help protect Americans.
Every year, collectively, these victims lose approximately $10 billion.
Below are a list of FCC websites with tips on protecting yourself from these scams.