January 2022 - The Fight Against Illegal Robocalls
Nothing makes me hang up the phone faster than a recorded voice imploring “Please, do not hang up.”
It was reported in 2020 Americans received as estimated 45,866,949,500 robocalls. And last year, about 1.1 billion robocalls were placed in New Jersey alone. Even worse, robocalls costs Americans almost $30 billion dollars over the past year.
Not all robocalls are bad; school closings, 9-1-1 notifications, weather alerts and the like all serve legitimate purposes. The majority, however, are designed to get your personal and/or financial information.
Some robocalls are threatening, demanding payments—often in the form of gift cards—to avoid severe consequences. Others offer to sell a product or service you probably have little interest in. These calls are insistent and illegal. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “sales” calls you receive without your express written consent for the call are against the law.
If they’re illegal, why are robocalls so prevalent? One answer is because often the entities behind these calls are outside of U.S. jurisdiction and, therefore, pay little attention to U.S. laws or do-not-call regulations. Another reason these calls are difficult to stop is because once a scam is revealed, the scammers move on to more sophisticated methods.
The surest way to avoid falling victim to a robocall is to simply not answer. Answering tells the scammers they have reached a valid phone number and identifies you as a potential future target. These days, that isn’t so easy. Software allows scammers to mask their phone numbers and even disguise those numbers to look like the call is local.
While the government works with phone service providers to develop and enhance tools to combat robocalls, there are things you can do:
- Download a call blocker
- Let unfamiliar calls go to voicemail
- Hang up
- Report the call (number, date, time, content) to the FTC
Most importantly, do to not engage with these callers. Remember, official agencies with legitimate issues needing your attention will contact you by mail.
Here’s to a healthy and safe 2022!