Post Content

 

Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools.  Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C.  While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.

Robocall scams often promise free cruises, debt relief, easy money and many more little slices of the American dream. Official-sounding tax scams in particular are very popular, estimated by the IRS to have netted fraudsters more than $40 million since October 2013. The senders of these illegal robocalls can readily and cheaply use technology to gain access to phone numbers, even ones that are unlisted. Robocall senders then input these lists of numbers into a computer program to instantly send out a pre-recorded message via the internet. These programs even have the ability to falsify caller-ID information to mimic a more official-looking sender.

Because regulatory agencies have struggled to keep up with the technological advances of robocalls and telecom carriers have seen little incentive to take on the problem, many private companies and consumers have taken the initiative to outsmart robocallers themselves.

To outmaneuver phone-spamming robocalls a sensiblannoying-phone-call-smalle plan of action includes:

  • Not answering. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) explain that answering the phone lets robocall systems know a consumer is a real person. This action may, in turn, prompt one’s number to be placed on a more valuable list of confirmed live consumers. If you don’t recognize an incoming number, don’t answer it.
  • Looking up the number and reporting it. Copy the suspicious phone number and do a reverse lookup with a reputable app or website. Hiya, a spinoff of Whitepages.com, has a large database of numbers used by scammers largely based on the reports of its users. If you know it’s a scam number, report it and file a complaint with the FTC.
  • Using a call-blocking service. Apps exist that can send alerts when a scammer calls, checking the incoming number against databases of phone numbers commonly used by illegal robocallers.
  • Updating your phone. Android devices currently provide call blocking. Apple’s upcoming iOS 10 will give iPhones new protection as well. These systems already block numbers so that a caller goes straight to voice mail, but soon apps will be able to block callers in bulk, without dumping numbers into your address book to do it.

The FCC and FTC are hoping that wireless carriers will intercept illegal robocalls at the network level, even allowing them to legally block robocalls and automated text messages if asked by a customer. Pressure from consumers and elected officials may give carriers more motivation to intervene. To date, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog post publicly calling out phone companies  to make robocall-blocking services free to consumers.

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 is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

Written By:

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Beware of Toxic Hand Sanitizer posted on Jun 23

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers of nine hand sanitizers that contain toxic ingredients. The agency said the products, which are manufactured in Mexico by Eskbiochem SA de CV, contain elevated levels of methanol or wood alcohol. Methanol should not be   …Continue Reading Beware of Toxic Hand Sanitizer

Massachusetts Banks and Credit Unions Deliver on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Promise posted on Jun 18

Massachusetts Banks and Credit Unions Deliver on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Promise

  Intended as a lifeline to all Americans amidst the pandemic crisis facing our nation and the world, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by the president on March 27th,   …Continue Reading Massachusetts Banks and Credit Unions Deliver on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Promise

Coping with Food Insecurity posted on Jun 5

Coping with Food Insecurity

Eating well is one of the most important things we can do to take care of ourselves and our families. For many families in the Commonwealth coping with the loss of income due to the pandemic food insecurity has become a real threat. According to   …Continue Reading Coping with Food Insecurity