Robocalls are the most common complaint to consumer protection offices. People are frustrated by them every day, along with unsolicited emails and text messages. Annoying robocalls are difficult to stop. From the Justice Department and FBI to local police, law enforcement tries to combat robocalls, but most times the calls come from locations outside the US, or are manipulated via computers bouncing calls all over the country and world. These scammers/hackers/criminals are very good at what they do – it’s organized crime and billions of dollars are stolen every year. They want to steal your money, steal your identity and steal your personal, confidential information. The best hope to stop them is for telephone carriers to block these calls before we get them, and the federal government finally confronted these carriers in December 2019 by passing the federal TRACED Act. It will take some time for this law to really impact robocalls, so for now, we’re stuck getting them every day.
Our office believes it’s critically important for consumers to protect themselves from the threats posed by scam calls, emails and texts – here’s some advice:
1) Don’t respond to any unsolicited calls, emails or texts, and especially don’t give anyone your personal information – such as your social security number, financial account info or user names/passwords – unless you are 100% sure who you are speaking with.
2) When robocallers say it’s an “emergency,” mention a “small fee” for services, or pressure you for information, it’s usually a scam. Consumers should also be careful with calls from alleged charities, it’s quite possible it’s a scammer.
3) If you get a call, text or email from an alleged government office, bank, credit card company, or from anywhere else, and you think it might be legitimate, just hang up the phone and you call back the entity that allegedly contacted you. This way you ensure you’re speaking with the right person. Also, if there are links in suspicious emails and texts, never click on them.
4) Screen your calls by using caller ID and voice mail. If a call is not from one of your contacts, let the unsolicited/unknown call go to voicemail, and then check your voicemail several times a day. When you get a scam robocall, you should always block that number on your cell phone.
5) Get an app for your phone that blocks/limits robocalls – there are many on the market to review – here’s two examples: Nomorobo or YouMail.
6) Your best defense to unsolicited robocalls is to just hang up the phone. Don’t speak with them because it’s possible they are taping your voice to use against you. Also, if the robocall asks that you hit a number (sometimes #9) on your phone to stop getting future calls, don’t do it, it’s part of the scam.
7) Be careful of “spoofed” calls, when your caller ID indicates it’s a local incoming call, but actually it’s a scam caller from far away.
8) It’s important to review your bank and credit card statements every month to identify possible scam charges.
9) Even though it provides limited protection, you still should put your phone number on the federal “Do Not Call Registry.”
10) Here are links to file robocall complaints:
- Federal Trade Commission: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
- Federal Communications Commission: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744
- Do Not Call Registry: https://www.donotcall.gov/report.html