The Federal Communications Commission and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council are teaming up to help consumers declare independence from robocalls.
Americans received more than 26 billion robocalls in 2018, a 46 percent increase over the previous year, according to third-party estimates. The FCC receives more consumer complaints on this topic than any other, reflecting consumers’ growing frustration with the illegal and unwanted calls.
Robocalls are not only annoying; they are increasingly used as an entry point to fraud. Scammers target innocent consumers, often spoofinglocal numbers or government agencies to steal their money and identities. The FBI reports that in just over a year, a Chinese-language robocall has resulted in over $40 million in reported stolen money from Chinese-speaking consumers.
Please pass along these tips to your contacts, membership lists, family and friends:
§ Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
§ You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be aware, though — caller ID showing a “local” number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
§ If you answer the phone and the caller — or a recording — asks you to press a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
§ Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.”
§ Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls, or if you are at all suspicious.
§ If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number in the phone book, on your account statement if you have one, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
The FCC has additional consumer information on its website at www.fcc.gov/robocalls. This information is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog.
Last month the FCC empowered phone companies to aggressively block by default unwanted and illegal robocalls before they reach consumers. Phone companies are also rolling out a robust caller ID authentication system, allowing them to block or label spoofed calls and help authorities track down the sources.
Help us get the word out and keep the fraudsters at bay.