The number of spam robocalls being made in the U.S. is out of control. In the month of May alone, Americans received a whopping 2.6 billion spam robocalls.
With scammers trying to rip us off or steal our identity, you always need to be on the lookout. Fortunately, a surprising number of organizations are teaming up to battle the epidemic.
Hopefully, their clever plan will put an end to spam robocalls for good.
Robocaller's favorite technique
You've probably received so many spam calls over the years that you've stopped answering calls from unfamiliar numbers with strange area codes. Which is why fraudsters have started "spoofing" phone numbers.
Spoofing is when scammers manipulate your caller ID. They may be calling you from Russia, China or some other faraway location. But your caller ID might show a phone number with your area code or even a number that you recognize.
The idea is that, if the number looks legitimate to you, you might answer the call. Then the scammer tricks you into sharing your personal information and credit card numbers.
Spoofing is illegal, according to the FCC. But criminals don't care, especially if they're overseas.
Are the days of spam robocalls numbered?
Now, a handful of trade groups, companies and government agencies are teaming up to try and put an end to these scams. FCC Chair Ajit Pai has made the fight against robocalls a top priority. He said the key to winning the battle is putting an end to spoofing.
When it comes to phone numbers, there are a series of them that are never assigned to anyone. Fraudsters sometimes spoof these unassigned numbers to make robocalls. When a call originates with one of these spoofed numbers and shows up on caller ID, the phone company knows it's not legitimate. Unfortunately, phone companies haven't been able to block these calls.
A former telecommunications employee said, "Up until now this has been difficult due to call completion rules. Any blocking needs to be reported to the FCC in case there's gamesmanship for competition."
Earlier this year, the FCC proposed new rules that would allow carriers to block unassigned phone numbers without having to worry about breaking anti-competition laws. Carriers would also have the authority to block spoofed phone numbers, which could end scams like the popular IRS spoofed number scam.
There is a good chance that these new rules will take effect, but we don't know when. The FCC is trying to speed up the process.
Until then, here are some suggestions from the FTC to avoid falling victim to spam robocalls:
Don't answer the phone
If you get a call from an unknown phone number, don't answer. If you want to check to see if it was a legitimate call, do a reverse call look-up to see who it is.
Note: Our sponsor BeenVerified has an easy to use Reverse Phone Lookup feature that will help you find out who's calling. Click here to see everything BeenVerified has to offer.
Safeguard your information
Do NOT give out or confirm your personal or financial information with someone who calls. Scammers will ask for your Social Security number, banking or credit card information, and maybe even your login credentials to certain websites. Never give this information to unsolicited calls or emails.
Don't wire money
Do not wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name on the caller ID looks legitimate.
If you answer the phone and the caller immediately begins pressuring you for information or payment, hang up. Fraudsters will try and overwhelm people and force them to act quickly so they don't have time to process what's happening. That's a sure sign of a scam.
Report scam calls
If you've received a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, you should report it to the FTC. Click here to file the report.
Looking for a way to stop robocalls? Here's a new government tool that can help
Robocalls aren't just annoying anymore, they can be downright malicious. With scammers trying to rip us off or steal our identity, you need to be on the lookout. My philosophy is, it's better to be safe than sorry. That's why you need this government tool to stop those troublesome robocalls.