The phone rings and you race to answer it, only to be greeted by silence, the voice of a stranger or a recorded message when you say hello. You’ve placed your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and that’s stopped the legitimate telemarketers from calling, but scammers are still getting through and they’re ignoring your request not to get these calls.
Well, here some good news — help may be on the way, thanks to a new “Robocall Strike Force,” assembled by the Federal Communications Commission and headed by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who is joined by representatives from 33 technology companies.
The committee is considering a Do Not Originate list and could be adopting call-blocking technologies on their networks, as well as other deterrents to prevent, detect and filter unwanted calls. Members will report back to the commission with recommendations by October 19.
“In parallel with the technological solutions, we’re going to need regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors,” Stephenson said during the committee’s first meeting on August 19. “Shutting down the bad guys is a very important step in all of this, and it’s going to be a powerful example to others.”
Carriers, device makers, network designers, regulators and lawmakers will all be involved in the task force, Stephenson said.
What Are Robocalls?
Robocalls are essentially unwanted phone calls that typically use technology that autodials or talks to a consumer via pre-recorded voices. Sometimes a robocaller will tell you a person you love is in danger, other times, you’re in trouble with the IRS or have a glitch at your bank. Friendlier robocalls may tell you you’ve won something big or offer you a lucrative opportunity to work from home. They often use a spoofing tool to generate a false phone number and then cover their tracks.
“Robocalls are a scourge,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said during the initial Robocall Strike Force meeting in August. “It’s the number one complaint that we hear from consumers at the Commission. We receive more than 200,000 complaints a year.”
Despite efforts to eliminate the calls, they’re continuing to grow. Some calls are just unwanted, but “millions are blatantly illegal,” Stephenson said.
If You Fall for a Phone Scam
If you think you may have accidentally fallen for a phone scam, it’s a good idea to check your financial accounts, credit reports and credit scores frequently for any signs of trouble. Transactions you don’t recognize, unfamiliar entries on your credit report and sudden changes in credit scores are signs of fraud to be immediately addressed. You can check your financial information through your bank or credit union online tools. You can keep an eye on your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com and requesting a copy of your free credit reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.