Robocalls Are A Public Nuisance

Do you agree that robocalls are a public nuisance? If so, I have a bit of good news. The Supreme Court just upheld a 1991 law that prohibits nearly all non-emergency robocalls to cellphones without the consumer’s consent.

Robocalls Are A Public Nuisance

The Supreme Court struck down a provision that allowed robocalls to go out to millions of consumers, who have loans that are guaranteed by the Federal Government. Therefore, consumers who have a government-backed mortgage or a federal student loan will no longer be harassed by debt collectors, if their payment becomes delinquent.

This loophole allowing debt collectors to robocall consumers, without their consent, was originally slipped into a 2015 budget bill.  According to an announcement from Consumer Reports, “The Supreme Court has now ruled that those collecting debt, on behalf of the federal government, cannot get preferential treatment when it comes to robocalling.”  You can read more about this new ruling here   

MEANWHILE

On another front, consumers will hopefully benefit from an anti-robocall bill that Congress passed in December 2019. The bill requires phone companies to help stop ‘spoofed’ scam calls before they reach your phone. Telecommunications companies were given the authority to use technology to proactively identify and block robocalls. However, the phone companies have until June 2021 to comply.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stepped-up enforcement power to levy heavy penalties and fines against robocall violators.

Unknown Robocaller
Don’t Answer The Phone!

MOST ROBOCALLS ARE ILLEGAL

Robocalls are automated phone messages that provide a call back number or ask you to press a number on your phone, to be connected to someone. Don’t take the bait!  Never press any numbers and never call them back, no matter how urgent the message sounds!

Robocallers use internet technology referred to as ‘spoofing’ to hide their true location. Spoofed calls are numbers that can mimic your bank, the IRS, or even your own phone number.

When these calls are placed, the recipient’s Caller ID displays whatever phone number the robocaller wants you to see on your Caller ID. It’s best to just let unknown callers go to voicemail. If you happen to pick up the phone, just hang up!

Yes indeed, robocalls are a public nuisance, but I’m optimistic that by next summer, we should see a swift decline in robocalls. Fingers crossed!

Read a prior Article I wrote about Robocall Scams

Here’s another prior article I wrote about the new bill regarding Robocalls

ROBOCALLS Telemarketing Phone Calls

ABOUT THOSE PESKY ROBOCALLS

Robocalls are designed to bait you into giving up your personal or financial information. Telemarketing fraud often begins with a Robocall. Unwanted calls are more than a mere annoyance – they are an invasion of privacy and a breeding ground for fraud and identity theft.

Robocalls broke a national record in March of this year (2018). Youmail.com reports that 3.15 billion Robocalls were placed in just the month of March alone. This is a 15% increase from the month before. This increase was driven by a big jump in telemarketing (up 19%) and scam calls (up 13%).

Consumer Reports estimates that Americans lose $350 million a year to scams involving Robocalls. Using today’s technology, tens of millions of Robocalls can be blasted out each day. We’ve all received these telemarketing pitches – like ‘Rachel from Cardholder Services’ or ‘Microsoft’ Imposters calling to warn you that you have a computer virus.

Robocalls
File a complaint with the FTC

MOST ROBOCALLS ARE ILLEGAL!

Only about 10% of Robocalls are actually legal and useful. Airlines can call to give flight updates. Schools can call to alert parents about closures. Doctors can call about appointment reminders. Also, non-profits, political and charitable organizations are allowed to call you too. Just beware of imposters!

Robocalls are usually autodialed or pre-recorded telemarketing calls. The scammers usually don’t know who they are calling and simply ignore the Do-Not-Call List. They oftentimes use prefixes that are the same area code that you live in and even use a phone number similar to yours – in the hopes that you’ll pick up the phone.

Don’t  believe what you see on Caller ID!

When these calls come in, your Caller ID usually displays “spoofed” (fake) phone numbers and/or “spoofed” names of legitimate organizations – like the IRS or a bank, or utility company.  Or, the Caller ID may show as “Unknown”. Robocallers often place their calls using internet technology that hides their location. From here on, you must never rely on what your Caller ID displays on your phone.

Robocalls Aren’t Going Away

Follow these tips to protect yourself from those pesky calls:

  • Don’t Encourage Them: If you are instructed to press a “key” to be taken off their list or to speak to an operator you are, in essence, logging your number as a working number. You will be targeted for even more annoying calls. Hang up without pressing any keys!
  • Don’t Engage: Don’t pick up if it’s a number you don’t recognize. Let it go to voicemail.
  • Block Robocall Numbers: Try contacting your phone service provider, but don’t pay extra for this type of service – since telemarketers change phone numbers often.
  • Forward any SPAM text messages to 7726 (or SPAM)
  • File a Complaint: This helps investigators detect & track patterns in Robocalls. Although most Caller IDs display numbers that are spoofed, report them anyway by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 888-382-1222 or go to ftc.gov/complaint
  • Sign the petition: at Consumers Union to help pressure Telephone Carriers to offer free call-blocking technology by going to: endrobocalls.org

 

ADDITIONALLY –  There’s an App for that

There are a number of apps that are free or for a small fee, will help prevent most, but not all Robocalls.

Here is the link for Android Phones: https://www.ctia.org/consumer-tips/robocalls/android-robocall-blocking

Here is the link for iPhones: https://www.ctia.org/consumer-tips/robocalls/ios-robocall-blocking

Here is a link for Landlines, that offers call blocking for free: https://www.nomorobo.com/

Interesting Factoids:

iPhone users get more robocalls than Android users. They received 29% more Robocalls than Android users, during the month of March. Also, AT&T users get more Robocalls than Verizon users.

Crooks who commit phone fraud are clever. They have to be – as this is the way they make their living. So, don’t engage with them. Instead – ALWAYS HANG UP ON ROBOCALLS OR LET YOUR CALLS GO TO VOICEMAIL!