Major tech companies are joining forces with the Federal Communications Commission to come up with solutions to stop dreaded robocalls.
According to CBS, more than 29 billionbombarded Americans last year.
New Federal Communications Commission rules that give consumers greater protection against robocalls took effect in October 2013, but the onslaught continues. Advances in technology have made it easy and cheap to send thousands of pre-recorded phone calls per minute using autodialers and fake caller IDs that make tracing hard.
Meanwhile, AT&T announced that the company has blocked its 1 billionth robocall using software that blocks such calls from being originated on its lines. This helps consumers whose phones operate with any carrier.
In a rare interview, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner spoke with new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to discuss how to deal with robocalls.
The telecom industry claims it’s working to block them, but that its efforts are complicated both by legal hurdles and the difficulty of tracing where these calls are coming from.
“It’s not normal to listen to your voicemails and immediately have people yelling at you to stop calling them,” said Peter Clarke.
Clarke hadn’t called anyone but when he checked his phone, he found more than a dozen missed calls with messages like, “I think you have the wrong number, Peter.”
Or, “Hi. You guys need to quit calling my phone. I don’t have a credit card. This is ridiculous.”
It’s called “spoofing.” Scammers make it appear as if robocalls to others are coming from your phone — making the actual scammers nearly impossible to track.
“It’s frustrating. There’s literally nothing that you can do to prevent yourself from being a victim to this spoofing,” Clarke said.
Werner asked, “Do you have a deadline for companies to fix this?”
“We certainly want them to move as quickly as possible and as aggressively as possible. Some of it is difficult to do, because these are highly technical areas,” Pai said.
The FCC is offering other advice too:
- If you do answer a call and are instructed to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Don’t hit a button. It almost surely won’t help and could hurt you. “Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents,” the FCC says.
- If you get a call that you believe is a scam, write down the phone number and file a complaint with the FCC.
- Ask your phone company whether it offers a service to block robocalls. “If not, encourage your provider to offer one,” the FCC says.
- If you’ve responded to a “Can you hear me” call, watch your statements from your phone company, bank and credit card company.
- Register all of your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
More phone companies, with both landlines and cell lines, are offering services