Apparently, many people need the warranty on their vehicle extended. That’s according to a recorded voice on the other end of an annoying robocall that so many people have been receiving.
Or there are troubles with our Social Security number. That’s the basis of another call that seems to be making the rounds in recent months.
The first one is simply irritating. The second — regarding Social Security information — is dangerous, because it’s an obvious scam meant to gather important personal information that can be used to possibly access personal accounts.
According to the spam-blocking company Truecaller, as many as 59 million Americans lost money as a result of phone scams in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reports that illegal robocalls cost U.S. residents $10 billion per year in fraud and $3 billion per year in wasted time.
Robocalls continue to increase as sellers, scammers and common scoundrels seek to bend our ear for a moment via our personal cell phones.
Will a new action by the FCC help? We sure hope so.
Here’s the latest: The FCC gave wireless phone providers until June 30 to self-report whether they are complying with the agency’s new rules regarding robocalls. If the providers aren’t doing so — or if they are dishonest in their reporting — then the FCC apparently is ready to take action.
It goes back to the federal TRACED Act, which stands for “telephone robocall abuse criminal enforcement and deterrence.” It was passed in 2019 and created groundwork to punish and deter robocallers, increasing the penalty for breaking the law and particularly going after scammers who use “spoof” calls — those that come to our phone with a familiar-looking local number.
Although the law has been in place, the calls continue. Some reports show that as many as four billion robocalls are happening per month nationwide.
But now, the FCC is checking in to ensure cell providers are fully complying with the requirement to implement technology to combat robocalls. Essentially, it requires technology that tracks calls and verifies they are from callers who are following the law.
Teresa Murray, of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, called June 30 “an important day in consumer protection history.”
“The FCC for years has been trying to squash illegal robocalls, mostly unsuccessfully. No more Mr. Nice Guy,” she said. “The FCC is done asking nicely or urging or begging phone companies to fight robocalls. It’s the law now. Phones are critically important in our society. When our phone rings, we should be able to trust the caller ID on the display, like we used to. That day is coming back.”
So as of June 30, robocalls supposedly will be crimped, at least somewhat. We’re hopeful, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
In the meantime, our advice is to promptly hang up on these pests, and never, ever give any personal or banking information over the phone.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Grand Forks Herald.