Jory MacKay is a writer and award-winning editor with over a decade of experience for online and print publications. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Victoria and a passion for helping people identify and avoid fraud.
Alina Benny is an Aura authority on internet security, identity theft, and fraud. She holds a bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from the Cochin University of Science and Technology and has nearly a decade in content research. Twitter: @heyabenny
Are You Getting Calls About Your Car Warranty? It Could Be a Scam
“We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty.” If you’ve picked up the phone and heard a robotic voice ask you this question, you’re not alone.
Americans received more than 21 billion robocalls last year, with car extended warranty scam calls being the most common [*]. But even worse, many are falling for these scams.
In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a $6 million settlement against American Vehicle Protection — a telemarketing company that cold called millions of Americans and sold them on fake or misrepresented vehicle warranties [*].
Along with scam phone calls, fraudsters use emails and text messages to target their victims in the hopes that they will give up information, money, or more.
In this guide, we’ll explain how the car extended warranty call scam works, how to quickly identify it, and what you can do to block annoying spam calls in the future.
What Is the Extended Car Warranty Scam? How Does It Work?
Whenever you buy a vehicle, car dealers include an option for you to either purchase an extended vehicle warranty or allow them to contact you in the future about similar services.
If you opt for the latter, it means that dealers — or third-party telemarketing companies — can call you with legitimate offers for an extended car warranty.
Scammers know this and take advantage of the fact that you’re used to receiving these types of calls (along with consumer fears of expensive vehicle repairs) to get you to fall for their schemes.
Here’s how the auto warranty scam typically works:
You answer a call and hear a recorded voice telling you that the coverage on your vehicle is about to expire. Auto warranty robocalls are so popular because it’s easy for scammers to efficiently target large numbers of people in a short period of time.
The recording requests that you press a specific key on your phone to talk to a live “salesperson” to extend your coverage.
Once connected, the salesperson attempts to get your payment information and personally identifiable information (PII) — name, address, driver’s license number, etc. — to draw up an extended warranty contract.
But instead of receiving a valid warranty, the scammers take the money and potentially use your information for identity theft or other fraud schemes.
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How To Identify an Extended Warranty Scam Call: 6 Warning Signs
It’s a robocall. Scammers use automated technology to send recorded messages, which allows them to reach large numbers of people. These calls typically ask you to click on a button to speak to someone. If you receive a robocall about an extended warranty, it’s best to hang up without engaging at all.
The call is vague. If the person you’re speaking to doesn’t have basic information — such as your name, vehicle type and year, and your current or past service contracts — it’s a scam.
The caller threatens you or stresses that you must act immediately. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to try to get you to act quickly. For example, they may say they’re calling “one last time” before your extended warranty expires, or that you’ll get a $1,000 rebate if you sign up right away. Learn more about how to identify scammers on the phone.
You’re asked to give up personal or financial information over the phone. Scammers make money by either selling fake warranties over the phone or getting enough personal information to steal your identity or break into your online accounts.
You don’t recognize the phone number or caller. Fraudsters can use spoofing technology to make it look like they’re calling from a local number or area code. Never blindly trust your caller ID. Instead, don’t answer unsolicited calls from numbers that you don’t recognize. Or, if you do pick up, ask for the caller’s name and phone number, hang up, and search online to see if it’s a scam before calling them back.
You’re offered a free warranty. Phone scammers will say anything to get you to give up money or information. If someone is offering you a “free warranty,” it’s almost certainly a scam. Always remember the golden rule of fraud prevention: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Did You Get an Extended Warranty Robocall? Here’s What To Do
The good news is that scammers can’t do much if all you do is answer a call. But even picking up the phone tells fraudsters that your number is active — which can result in receiving more scam calls in the future.
If you accidentally answer a robocall or press a button and start speaking to a scammer, here’s what to do:
Hang up as soon as you know it’s a potential robocall scam.
Do not press any buttons on the menu as requested, and don’t answer any questions.
Do not provide personal or financial information over the phone.
Don’t call back numbers that you don’t recognize — even if they only ring once.
Block numbers that keep calling you.
If you think that you may be talking to a legitimate dealership, ask for their information and then hang up and call them back directly.
1. Remove your phone number from data broker lists
Data brokers collect your information — such as phone numbers — from various sources online and sell or license it to other businesses. Legitimate businesses often use this type of information for marketing, but scammers can also purchase or gain access to it after a data breach.
You can contact data brokers to have your information removed, which will reduce the number of calls you receive. However, this process can be time-consuming.
Here’s what to do:
Research all data brokers that could have access to your contact information. Privacy Rightsmaintains a list that you can filter by state.
Then, go to each data broker’s website and follow their opt-out process. Make sure you maintain a record of whom you’ve contacted and when.
Each company may require different steps to opt out of their data collection and remove your information. For example, some may have an online form for you to fill out while others may require you to call a number.
Some online forms may require you to sign up for an account and provide personal information as part of the opt-out process. If you’re required to provide a driver’s license as a photo ID, cross out your license number before sending it.
2. Silence calls from unknown numbers (on iOS and Android)
The best defense against scam calls is to never answer them. Scammers won’t keep trying numbers that aren’t picked up.
Your cell phone has a feature that will silence calls from unknown numbers — making you less likely to answer a scam call. You’ll still receive calls from people on your contact list, as well as Siri Suggestions (on iOS), and recent outgoing calls.
You can always check your list of missed calls throughout the day to make sure you don’t accidentally miss an important call.
Here’s what to do:
For iOS or iPhones:
Open your phone’s Settings.
Tap on the “Phone” option.
Toggle the “Silence Unknown Callers” to green.
For Android phones:
Tap the phone icon (often found at the bottom of your phone’s screen) and then the three dots found at the top of your phone’s screen.
Select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.
Tap on the option that your particular Android phone offers (for example, “Block anonymous calls” or “Block harassing calls”).
3. Block spam callers on your phone (iOS and Android)
You can also individually block callers on your phone. This step can be helpful if you keep receiving spam calls from the same number.
Here’s what to do:
For iOS 13 or higher:
Open your Phone app.
Go to either Favorites, Recents, or Voicemail, and find the number you want to block.
Tap the blue “i” symbol beside the number you want to block.
Select the option “Block this Caller.”
For Android phones:
Open your Phone app.
Press down on the number you want to block until an option menu appears (keep holding down, or else you’ll accidentally call the number).
Then, tap “Block/report junk” from the dropdown menu.
In addition to this, Aura's proprietary AI Call Assistant can pick up calls from unknown numbers on your behalf and screen them.
Configure intent-based filtering to meet your call preferences so you don't miss calls about real appointments, deliveries, or emergencies. All spam call protection features are available on Aura's family plans or as add-ons on other plans.
4. Use your phone service provider’s call-blocking features
Most major phone service providers offer apps to help reduce spam calls. While these apps can help, they may not catch all spam calls. Additionally, you’ll need to check your phone call logs and voicemail to ensure that a legitimate call wasn’t blocked.
This automatic blocking service is often offered for free, although providers may have upsells for other additional services.
Here’s what to do:
Go to your phone service provider’s website page to find information on their spam-blocking service. For example, here are the services offered by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
Follow the specific steps for your provider to sign up for the blocking service you need. You most likely will need to download an app to your phone.
5. Consider using a third-party, call-blocking app
Many companies offer services that can help reduce the amount of spam calls you receive.
Here are a few options that you should consider:
Aura offers an AI-powered Call Assistant that screens all incoming calls and texts on your behalf — ensuring that only legitimate callers and messages get through.
Truecallerworks on both iOS and Android to block spam calls and unmask spoofed phone numbers. Truecaller offers a free app with limited features and a premium version that starts at $29.90 a year.
Hiyais a simple app that identifies many spam calls and forces callers to explain why they’re calling you. It’s available on both Android and iOS.
Nomorobodetects and blocks robocalls, screens potential scam callers before letting them through, and filters out spam texts. Its basic plan starts at $19.99 per year.
YouMailis another app that blocks spam and robocalls and gives you deeper insights into who’s calling you. They also offer a number of professional features for business owners. YouMail offers a free app with premium plans starting at $5.99 a month.
Call Control Homeis a small device that works with your landline to block unwanted spam calls and spoofed phone numbers. The device costs $149.99.
While these apps and devices can help block spam calls, it’s better not to receive them in the first place. Aura’s data broker opt-out feature will automatically remove you from spam caller lists so that you don’t get called.
The National Do-Not-Call-Registry (i.e, the “do not call list”) is a free service that was created to help stop unwanted sales calls from legitimate businesses. The Registry won’t stop calls from scammers, but it can help cut down the amount of calls you receive from telemarketers.
You can register both mobile and home phones.
Here’s what to do:
Go to DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register.
If you use the website, you’ll receive an email with a link to complete your registration. You’ll need to click on the link within 72 hours.
Your phone number will appear on the registry the day after you sign up. However, it can take up to 31 days for sales calls to stop.
If you receive an unwanted call after 31 days of being registered, you can report the call to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online.
7. File a complaint with the FCC
Receiving unwanted calls, including scam robocalls, is a common complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Filing a consumer complaint can help the FCC and federal law enforcement gather information and discover trends to help consumers on a national scale.
As more people file their personal stories, the collective information can help provide key information that can also be used to stop scammers and identify trends. However, the FCC is unable to resolve individual complaints about robocalls.
Here’s what to do:
If you’ve received an unwanted call, fill out this online form. Make sure to select “Unwanted Calls” from the “Phone Issues” dropdown menu.
In the news: The Ohio Attorney General is suing the ringleaders of a massive auto warranty robocalling scheme for $10 million [*]. The fraudsters initiated billions of scam calls over an 18-month period.
8. Limit how much you share online (especially on social media)
Scammers get your phone number from all sorts of places. But the most common sources are data brokers, data breaches, and social media profiles.
One of the best ways to reduce the amount of spam calls you receive is to limit where and with whom you share your phone number. For example, many social media sites request your phone number during the sign-up process. But this can make it easier for scammers to find.
Here’s what to do:
Remove your phone number and other contact information from all of your social media profiles.
Google your own phone number and email address to see where they can be found online. Remove your personal information wherever possible from any sites that are listing it.
Update your social media settings to only allow friends and close contacts to see your account details. This can stop scammers and data brokers from stealing your information.
Were You the Victim of an Extended Warranty Scam Call? Do This
Scammers are experts at tricking people. If you’re the victim of an extended warranty phone scam, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and help prevent others from becoming victims.
If you gave scammers personal identifying information (PII) — like your bank account number or Social Security number (SSN) — file an official identity theft report with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
If you gave scammers financial information, monitor your credit cards, bank statements, and credit report for signs of identity theft.
If you know the scammer or have any information that could lead to an arrest, contact your local law enforcement and file a police report. You’ll need to provide them with as much information about the caller as you can — such as a name, address, and phone number.
If you received a scam call but did not provide the caller with information and did not lose money, you can still report the call to the FCC. They will investigate to determine if the call violated telemarketing and robocall rules. Completing this step can help them take action against scammers.
How Scammers Get Your Phone Number (and What To Do)
Unfortunately, there are many ways that scammers and robocallers can gain access to your phone number, including:
Through your state’s DMV website.
From a data brokerage.
Data breaches from sites you use.
Credit reporting companies.
Contests or competitions you’ve entered online that require a phone number.
Social media sites that require your phone number to create an account.
Do not interact with a call that you think is a scam. Hang up quickly, and do not press any numbers.
Reduce the number of people who have access to your primary phone number by using a secondary number or burner number for things like online forms or social media.
Do not publish your phone number on social media.
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Slam The Brakes on Extended Car Warranty Scam Calls
Getting extended car warranty calls is annoying. But even worse is losing money to a scammer (or becoming the victim of identity theft).
If you receive a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it. If you pick up and hear a robocall, hang up right away. And to reduce the amount of spam you receive and protect yourself from fraud and identity theft, consider signing up for Aura.
With Aura, you get:
Automatic data broker removal to reduce spam calls and texts.
Credit monitoring to protect your bank, credit, and investment accounts from scammers.
#1-rated identity theft protection to alert you in near real-time if scammers are trying to steal your identity.
Proactive device security — including antivirus software, virtual private network (VPN), and safe browsing tools — to protect you against hackers.
24/7 U.S.-based fraud resolution specialists who are always ready to take your call.