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With the rise of spoofed robocalls affecting millions across the nation, government agencies have been taking action.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on June 25, 2019 that it will be enforcing legal action against perpetrators of illegal robocalls. The effort, named “Operation Call It Quits,” is a part of a larger initiative to combat on-going robocall incidents on state, federal and local levels. The FTC’s recent actions include four new cases against 22 individuals and corporations, which brings the overall total number of actions by the FTC to 145 cases against 479 companies and 387 individuals responsible for illegal calls.

Companies and private individuals facing legal action include First Choice Horizon, 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle, Media Mix 365, LLC, and Derek Jason Bartoli.

Victims of the aforementioned parties allege that they have been tricked into providing personal information such as Social Security numbers and credit card information to make unconsented purchases. They also allege that they were made to participate in fraudulent programs that promise large sums of money and have been harassed. (FTC Release)

The FTC is not alone in their attempts to address the issue. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced that it will be hosting a SHAKEN/STIR Robocall Summit on July 11, 2019. The summit’s goal is to encourage the implementation of SHAKEN/STIR ID authentication framework that aims to protect consumers from spoofed robocalls.  (FCC News).

The SHAKEN/STIR framework calls for security checks across phone carrier companies before a call reaches a consumer, to ensure a call’s authenticity. This framework requires collaboration and commitment from phone companies. The FCC claims that SHAKEN/SKIN would be the most immediate fix to tackle spoofed robocalls.

So far, the FCC has made it possible for phone companies to automatically block robocalls by default but in the meantime, it is imperative for Massachusetts residents to be vigilant and protect themselves from fraudulent callers: there are a few things you can do:

  • Let unknown numbers go to voicemail
  • Download call-blocking applications on your mobile device
  • Register your phone number on the both the state and National Do Not Call Registry
  • Be overly cautious when sharing personal information

In addition, you can always file FTC and FCC complaints if you’ve been a victim of a phone or text message scam.

Where to file a complaint:

Filing a complaint with the FCC

If you are billed for a call you made as a result of this scam, first try to resolve the matter with your telephone company. If you are unable to resolve it directly, you can file a complaint with the FCC at no cost.

Filing a complaint with the FTC

If you believe that you are a victim of an international phone scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC.

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. 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.

 

 

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