Robocalls are one of the most aggravating things on the planet, just ask anyone with a phone and they will tell you. These calls come at you every day, sometimes multiple times a day. They’re from companies trying to sell you things you don’t want, or from scammers hoping to steal your money.
Robocall scams have been around for decades, but they seem to be getting more sophisticated and widespread. In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created regulations called STIR/SHAKEN which required the largest voice service providers to incorporate called ID authentication standards into their networks.
Smaller service providers were granted additional time to get their networks STIR/SHAKEN compliant. But this delay created a new problem: Robocalls were simply being routed through smaller networks that hadn’t yet implemented the authentication standards. Scammers saw a wide-open door and began flooding these smaller networks with robocalls, taking advantage of the delay.
YouMail CEO Alex Quilici believes technology like Stir-Shaken isn’t enough to crack down on spam calls. Quilici says there also needs to be more enforcement. “You want enforcement to go not only after the bad guys but some of the carriers that are supporting them,” says Quilici.
Earlier this year, the FCC took responsive action to close the Stir-Shaken loophole. The agency unanimously voted to require all voice service providers – both large and small – to implement STIR/SHAKEN by June 30th, 2022. However, as new technologies are applied to the situation, robocallers have adapted to them and deploy counter technology to stay one step ahead of carriers and regulators.
Regulators Fight The Scam and The Spam
Lily Hay Newman wrote in June’s Wired Magazine that “Despite major progress fighting spam and scams, the roots of the problem go far deeper than your phone company’s defenses.” As one loophole is closed, several others emerge and have been difficult to combat. Internet phone systems called voice-over IP (VoIP) have made mass phone calling to consumers simple, cheap, and hard to trace. Robocalls have been virtually nameless since the advent of VoIP, allowing many robocallers to escape detection by law enforcement.
Other agencies have also been active in the fight against robocalls. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the United States Justice Department (DOJ) initiated litigation against a major VoIP service provider who was accused of assisting and facilitating the transmission of illegal pre-recorded telemarketing robocalls, including those they knew or should have known, were scams, to consumers nationwide.
“These defendants helped scammers blast millions of illegal robocalls into our homes,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This is our third case in the last two years against VoIP service providers, who should take note of what happens when they ignore the law.”
Robocalls Cost Americans Billions Annually
While the true cost of phone fraud to Americans is unknown, most studies show that billions of dollars are lost each year by consumers in the United States, making it a priority for federal authorities to stop.
It’s been made clear that the fight against unlawful robocalls is not just a legal issue, but rather one of “origination.” The Feds are now zeroing in on where the robocallers originate their illicit calls, and they’re shutting down these international fraudsters at the source, in call centers, and in the VoIP networks, scammers use to route their calls.
Cybercriminals execute a wide range of illicit activities. They can target a large number of potential victims with robocalls that sell bogus products, spread misinformation, or even threaten physical harm if victims don’t comply with their scams.
Over time, these new regulations are expected to make a considerable reduction in spoof calls, but the issue of robocalls will continue to be complicated, and it will take regulators, carriers, and customers working together to end them. Meanwhile, keep these simple precautions in mind to avoid becoming a victim of a robocall scam.
Here are some quick tips:
-Do not take calls from unknown numbers. Legitimate callers will generally leave a message for you.
-Hang up if the robocaller asks “Can you hear me?”
-If you do answer the phone and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop getting calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this tactic to identify potential victims.
-Do not give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number to anyone who calls you.
What To Do If You Are Being Contacted Regularly
Finally, if you get a robocall or receive them regularly as many others do, report it to the FTC and IC3.gov. Share this article with family and friends about robocall scams and how to avoid them. Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. Automated calls can exploit you or your loved ones. Take action, by not allowing robocalls to take advantage of you or your family.
Led by attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer with over 75 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in fighting robocalls and telephone scams. If you have been the victim of a robocall or telephone scam, we may be able to help you recover your losses. Contact us today for a free consultation and follow us on Twitter.