How to Protect Yourself from AI Scam Calls

You likely consider yourself fairly savvy about avoiding online scams — you’re not clicking on strange email links or wiring funds to fake royalty. However, as technology advances, so do the tactics of scammers.

Even with your cautious approach, it’s important to stay vigilant since scammers continuously develop new methods. The classic tricks may not fool you, but modern scams can be more sophisticated and harder to spot.

AI technology allows scammers to launch these attacks on a larger scale and add personal touches, making them more difficult to identify. With AI, scammers can target more people efficiently and customize their schemes to appear more legitimate. This article will provide strategies to help you stay protected from AI scam calls.

How AI Scam Calls are Generated

Generative AI advancements are making it easier and cheaper for scammers to create convincing fake audio of people’s voices. These AI voice clones are trained on existing audio clips and can imitate almost anyone, even in multiple languages. OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, recently announced a new text-to-speech model that could enhance voice cloning and make it more accessible.

AI audio has become so advanced that traditional tips for detecting fake calls, like noticing pauses or latency, are now outdated. Scammers use AI cloning tools to deceive victims into thinking they are speaking with a loved one on the phone when it’s actually a computer.

Deep fake audio isn’t just for celebrities and politicians. Many people mistakenly believe their voices can’t be cloned. However, with just five to ten seconds of audio from a TikTok or YouTube video, AI can create a convincing voice clone. Even your voicemail message could provide enough material for replication.

While the threat of AI-powered scams is alarming, you can protect yourself by following expert advice when you receive an urgent, unexpected call.

Strategies You Can Employ to Safeguard Against AI Scam Calls

1. Hang Up and Verify

You receive a frantic call from a family member claiming they’ve been in a terrible car accident and urgently need money to avoid jail. Though the voice and number seem genuine, something feels off, so you hang up and call your family members. When they answer, they confirm there’s been no accident and they’re unaware of the situation. You’ve just successfully avoided an AI-generated scam call.

Security experts warn that scammers can easily make a call appear to come from a legitimate number. If you receive a call asking for money or personal information, whether it’s from your bank or a loved one, ask to call them back. Verify the number online or in your contacts, then initiate the follow-up. You can also use a different, verified communication method like video chat or email to confirm the request.

2. Create a Secret Safe Word

Creating a secret safe word is a recommended security tip for safeguarding against AI scam calls. It’s a good strategy to agree on a word or phrase with your loved ones which can be used to confirm their identity in distress situations. While it’s best to call back or verify through another communication method, a safe word can be particularly useful for children or elderly relatives who might be harder to reach.

3. Ask Personal Questions Like What They Had for Dinner

If you haven’t set up a safe word and need to verify a distressing call, pause and ask a personal question. You can ask something only a loved one would know, such as, “Can you remind me what we had for dinner last night?” Ensure the question is specific enough that a scammer can’t guess the answer.

4. Don’t Give in to Emotional Appeals

Experienced scammers, whether through AI scam calls or other high-class scams, know how to build trust, create urgency, and exploit weaknesses. Security experts warn that the best scammers aren’t always top technical hackers, but they understand human behaviour well. It is advised that you be cautious when you feel heightened emotions and that you take a moment to reflect before doing anything, as this can help you avoid being scammed.
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