Fight Back On Phone Scammers
If you’re like most Americans with a cellphone, receiving spam calls and robocalls has become a daily occurrence. The surprising part of these day-to-day intrusions? They may be even more pervasive than you think.
First Orion, a company that provides phone call and data transparency solutions, analyzed more than 50 billion calls from tens of millions of mobile phone users over a recent 18-month period. Their prediction: 44.6 percent — yes, nearly half — of calls to mobile phones will be scam calls in 2019.
Considering the number of fraudulent calls was just 3.7 percent in 2017 but jumped to 29.2 percent in 2018, a cause for alarm is warranted. Industry research shows that Americans now receive roughly 5 billion robocalls each month. The problem is complex to battle with robocall blocking apps and services often mistakenly blocking or mislabeling consumer calls as possible scams.
The good news is that relief may be on the way via ramped up efforts from the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), which has said that unwanted scam calls — including illegal and spoofed robocalls — are the organization’s top consumer complaint.
In June, the FCC voted to give wireless carriers authority to block robocalls automatically for customers. That means companies like AT&T and Verizon could develop technology to curb phone-based scams and unwelcomed onslaught of unwanted calls. Consumers would have the option to opt out of the service.
The FCC’s other efforts to combat illegal calls include developing methods for phone companies to authenticate caller ID to lessen illegal spoofing, making complaint data accessible to facilitate better call blocking and labeling solutions and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement measures against robocaller scams.
“No consumer wants to be bombarded by spoofed robocalls,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a February 2019 report. “There’s no easy or single answer, but by using every tool in our toolbox, we are fighting against the onslaught of unwanted calls that has led a lot of consumers to stop answering the phone altogether.”
These tips can help you fight illegal scam calls.
1. Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, family names, passwords or other identifying information unless you’ve initiated the call.
2. Know that caller ID displaying a local area code could actually be a spoofed call.
3. Don't pick up calls from unknown numbers. If you do, once you realize it is a scam, hang up immediately.
4. Check with your phone company to see if they offer a robocall block service.
5. Hang up if a caller or recording asks you to hit a button to stop getting calls — it could make you a potential target.
6. Do not respond to any questions, particularly ones that can be answered with “yes.”
7. Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov).