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scammer-calling

In recent years, robocalls have disturbed, cheated, and scammed constituents, stealing nearly $1 billion from consumers in 2018 alone. Scam callers may pose as various government agencies or other organizations requesting money, personal information and other data in hopes to steal from or harm the person on the other line.

In December 2019, there were 147.3 million robocalls made to people nationwide per day. Massachusetts consumers alone received 1.6 million spam calls per day. It’s very likely that you have answered a robocall at some point. Robocalls have become not only a consumer nuisance, but also an extremely dangerous practice, as your private information and hard-earned money can potentially end up in the hands of someone with malicious intentions.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation hosted the New England State Symposium on Robocalls with Governor Charlie Baker, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai in November 2019. A panel of industry experts led an important discussion on what is being done at the federal, state and local level to combat robocalls.

Just a few days into 2020, the Federal Government signed new anti-robocall legislation into law, dubbed the TRACED act. The legislation aims to counter robocalls in its mission to protect consumers. While completely ending robocalls will be difficult, here is how the TRACED act protects you from fraud and theft:

  • The act requires phone companies to create processes or systems to recognize calls and block them before they can reach you, the consumer. Phone companies must also block calls without charging you extra for these services. Instead of ringing through to your phone, the calls will go straight to voicemail. Some phone companies have already initiated and implement processes to reduce spam calling to consumers.
  • While the law has provisions to protect the consumer directly, it also does so indirectly, through its empowerment of the FCC. The FCC is given stronger enforcement ability, allowing an increased financial penalties for robocall abusers. Furthermore, it gives the FCC greater jurisdiction to apprehend scammers and extend the state of limitations by up to four years.
  • Finally, the law empowers the Department of Justice to deliver stronger criminal prosecutions to scammers after receiving appropriate evidence from the FCC.

As these new laws and regulations are being implemented, you may still receive scam calls. Do not share any personal information or money with callers without appropriate verification. Be sure to report any suspicious phone calls to the FCC or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can find more information about consumer protection and reporting by visiting the FTC’s consumer information web page or the FCC’s consumer guide on robocalls.

 

 


If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs, and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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