How to Protect Yourself from Robocalls

February 13, 2018

Robocalls are more than annoying; they are designed to make you a victim of their fraud.

As a consumer of goods and services, there are a number of federal laws designed to protect you. Founded in 1914, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governmental branch responsible for the protection of consumer rights in the United States. The agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection is charged with stopping unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices by collecting complaints and conducting investigations and punishing those who break the law. Nevertheless, telemarketers who specialize in Robocalls simply don't care.

Unsolicited autodialed telemarketing calls continue to rise. If you answer a landline or cell phone and hear a recorded message, it's a robocall. Not all automated calls are malicious, as doctor's offices often use such features to remind you about an appointment and allow you to confirm or cancel. However, internet-powered phone systems (VoIP) have made it easy for scammers worldwide to make illegal calls while displaying fake caller ID information.

Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call Registry

In 2003, President George Bush signed into law the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act that allowed the FTC to create a National Do Not Call Registry. Hundreds of millions of consumers had a false hope that registering their phone number would put an end to all unwanted and unsolicited calls. But, advances in technology continue to make robocall marketing a more profitable scam today, than ever before. Most of those caught and tried for their dastardly deed, became insolvent and the total amount of money collected from prosecuting all crimes is miniscule compared to the illegitimate gains of telemarketers.

Phone Scams Result Annual Loses of $350 Million Plus

According to Consumer's Union, violators today collect about $1 million per day from frauds that include cardholder service's debt-reduction scams, fake IRS collections, bogus warranties and protections plans, quick fix computer solutions and cleverly solicited identity thefts. When you answer your phone and hear that telltale silence, just hang up; and never press "1" or other buttons. That signals telemarketers of a live number and you will get more robocalls. Never give out person information, bank account information, credit card information or usernames and passwords.

In response to an 1888 Chicago telephone scam, a police investigator said, "The educated criminal skims the cream from every new invention, if he can make use of it." To be honest, nothing but the volume has changed and today's problem has become too big for under-funded government agencies to litigate. The most promising solutions at this time seems to be in developing software apps that can that be updated to stay one-step ahead of the perpetrators, as well as consumers using common sense and being proactive about the unwanted calls they receive.

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