I made a major mistake when I registered my site online. I’m extremely frugal as most of you who are frequent readers know. Unfortunately, that frugality sometimes manifests itself in being penny wise but pound foolish. If your personal information is ever publicly exposed on the world wide web, you will get vicious robocalls. Here’s what happened to me.
How I Got Targeted
First off, you should not be afraid of starting a blog online. In fact, it’s one of the most fun things you could ever do. I love sharing with friends and total strangers how to financially win at life. Starting Millennial Moola was therefore a great decision.
What I would have done differently if I could start over is be serious about privacy. If you decided to start a blog with Bluehost, you have the option to purchase something called “whois domain privacy.” When you register a website, your personal information is out there for the world to see. Anyone in the world can go to whois.com and look for who owns a website. Try it out.
If you go to this link, you can see how my domain registration appears now that I fixed it. It used to show my name, address, and personal phone number. Now for about $10 a year, Bluehost uses their name in my place. That way, when the seedy internet scammers go looking for personal information to abuse, they have nothing to use. If you start a blog, PLEASE use whois domain privacy to ensure your personal information doesn’t get out there on the web.
I didn’t protect my info initially. Scammers search the whois.com directory of newly registered websites because of this mistake. That’s how they got my phone number.
How the Vicious Robocalls Happened to Me
I started receiving several calls a week from random phone numbers because of my student loan consulting business. The scammers that target me with vicious robocalls change their phone number each time. That way, I can’t block them. Because I don’t want to miss out on business just in case a client calls, I usually pick up.
The robocall starts with a female’s voice that sounds as if it’s from the Midwest. She tells me in an alarming tone that there is something that immediately needs to be addressed about my credit card accounts. Eventually, the recording explains representatives are standing by to help me lower my credit card interest rate. I wanted off their damn call list, so I made another mistake when I pressed 1 to speak to a live representative. My purpose was to request they remove me from list or else I was going to report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
As soon as I ask for my number to be removed from their list because it’s being called illegally, the representative from India who answers the phone basically tells me to go screw myself. He says that they don’t have to remove my number and that they’ll call whenever they want. The rep says that I should not waste my time and just hang up. He encourages me to file a complaint against them with the Federal Trade Commission because “they’re not going to do anything, so what do I care?”
How These Scams Continue to Exist
If one of these scams operated in Salt Lake City, I’m pretty sure the feds could just send in the FBI and shut the operation down. Unfortunately, from listening to the accent of the caller, this operation is based internationally.
If I had to guess, there’s a group of very smart and unethical people sitting in a room somewhere in India, Bangladesh, or Pakistan that thought this scam up. They paid a few hundred bucks for a female voice actor to read a script. Then, the scammers hire low cost labor to scour the whois domain registry for idiots like me who posted their personal information online unknowingly.
The Federal Trade Commission is probably trying to shut down scams like this one. Unfortunately, they either do not have the staff, expertise, or motivation to stop these bad actors abusing the internet and American consumers. If you are being targeted by vicious robocalls, you should at least make the issue known to the FTC by filing a complaint form online.
How the Vicious Robocalls Drive You to Pay Scammers Money
After they build the database with all the personal information they find, then the operation begins. The scammers call everyone on their list once or twice a week with their robocall on the hopes that someone picks up. Once a poor soul presses 1 to speak to a representative, then the scam goes into overdrive. Please NEVER press 1 when the robocall offers to connect you to a live representative. These people do not respect the law, and will use the fact you pressed 1 to call you even more.
Their goal is to get your credit card number so they can charge it. Once the card has been charged, they just made money for doing nothing. They will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get this info. Once they have it, good luck because you just got scammed.
It makes a lot of sense that a scam like this exists. Southeast Asia is full of people with high levels of IT expertise. It’s also home to very low cost labor. Scammers in this part of the world can hire people very cheaply to put together databases of personal info for exploitation. Perhaps they’re pushed to this out of desperation, but I think it’s just a crime of opportunity driven by greed.
When You Start a Website, Register for Whois Domain Privacy
Now that we’ve covered the consequences, I hope I’ve convinced you to fork over the $10 a year it costs to hide your personal info from exposure on the world wide web. I’ve started two more websites in the past month with Bluehost using free WordPress site builders, and I bought whois domain privacy on both of them. You could start your own blog with a clever web address today for a 12 month price of around $35-$45. Add in the $10 for domain privacy, and you’ve just bought piece of mind.
Do not expose yourself to vicious robocalls. Learn from my mistake and have a great time building a business or personal blog online. You might even make a few hundred bucks while having fun.
Questions for You
- Have you ever had your info abused online by scammers?
- What’s holding you back from starting your own website?