You answer the phone only to hear the recorded message, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty.” You’ve just experienced a robocall.
A robocall is an automated telephone call that uses a computerized auto dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message as if from a robot. It is estimated that there have already been 28.7 billion robocalls in 2022, and spam texts jumped from 1 billion sent per month in July 2021 to more than 12 billion in June. Most common types of spam calls are related to credit card debt, financial customer call, health insurance and medical tests, “You won!” contest calls and IRS tax fraud.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC.gov) states that unwanted calls are their top consumer complaints. As part of their consumer protection efforts, the FCC has begun cracking down on illegal calls by:
- Issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement actions against illegal robocallers.
- Empowering phone companies to block by default illegal or unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics before the calls reach consumers.
- Allowing consumer options on tools to block calls from any number that doesn’t appear on their contact list or other “safe list”.
- Requiring phone companies to implement Caller ID Authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.
- Making consumer complaint data available to enable better call blocking and labeling solutions.
While you may have noticed receiving fewer robocalls over the past year, scammers are increasingly using text messages, which are not as strictly regulated. Some scammers may be after your money, but others may be simply trying to collect personal information or confirm that a number is active for use in future scams.
How to Protect Yourself
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
- If the caller claims to be from a legitimate company, hang up and call them back using a valid number found on their website.
- If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls or asks you to say “yes” in response to a question, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify and target live respondents, or to use your “yes” to apply unauthorized charges on your bill.
- Be aware that Caller ID showing a “local” number no longer means it is necessarily a local caller.
- If you answer and the caller asks for payment using a gift card, it’s likely a scam.
- If you have lost money because of a scam call, contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Never share sensitive personal or financial information by text or phone.
- Do not respond to texts from unknown numbers, even if the message requests that you “text STOP”. Delete all suspicious texts.
- Be on the lookout for misspellings or texts that originate with an email address.
- Think twice before clicking any links in a text message.
- Remember that government agencies rarely initiate contact by phone or text.
- Consider registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry.
- File a complaint with the FCC at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
If you think a caller is trying to scam you, hang up. If you get suspicious email or text, do not reply. If you think that you’re the victim of a texting scam, report it immediately to your local law enforcement agency and notify your wireless service provider and financial institutions where you have accounts.
To help reduce the number of illegal robocalls that may originate from their network, Smart City Telecom has implemented robocall mitigation efforts to monitor the network and verify legitimate calls. Find out more about what Smart City Telecom is doing to protect its customers at https://smartcitytelecom.com/legal/robocalls/.