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FTC Warns 24 Telcos Facilitating Robocalls From Overseas Scammers and Imposters

TL;DR

TL;DR Breakdown

  • FTC is taking aggressive action against illegal robocalls, including publicly naming and warning telcos and blocking voice service providers.
  • Robocalls are a nuisance and pose a risk as scammers use them to trick people into divulging personal information or money.
  • Education is important in helping consumers protect themselves from unwanted calls.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has publicly named 24 US telcos and warned them about facilitating illegal robocalls originating from overseas scammers and imposters. The agency has been working to close the door on these unwanted calls, which have become a major problem for consumers across the United States.

Robocalls have become a major annoyance for consumers in recent years, with many people receiving multiple unwanted calls per day. These calls can range from telemarketing pitches to scams and fraud attempts, and they often use spoofing techniques to make it appear as though they are coming from a legitimate number.

Companies that illegally call numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall can currently be fined up to $43,792 per call. Another agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed last December 2022 a record $300 million fine over an alleged robocall scam they say involved more than five billion unsolicited calls to targeted consumers over three months.

Not only are robocalls annoying, but they can also be dangerous. Some scammers use these calls to try to trick people into giving away their personal information or money. Others use them to spread malware or other harmful software.

Protecting yourself from robocalls

If you’re tired of receiving unwanted robocalls, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The FTC recommends:

  • Hanging up: If you receive a robocall, hang up the phone immediately. Don’t press any buttons or engage with the caller in any way.
  • Blocking numbers: Many smartphones have a feature that allows you to block specific numbers. Use this feature to block known robocallers.
  • Registering for the Do Not Call Registry: You can add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive.
  • Being cautious with your personal information: Don’t give out personal information to anyone over the phone unless you are absolutely sure that the caller is legitimate.
  • Using call-blocking apps: There are many call-blocking apps like TrueCaller which are effective in identifying scammers and blocking numbers. 

The FTC’s actions against robocalls

The FTC has been taking aggressive action against illegal robocalls in recent years, using a variety of tools and tactics to combat this problem. These include:

  • Publicly naming and warning telcos that facilitate illegal robocalls: In April 2023, the agency publicly named 24 US telcos that it has warned about their role in facilitating these calls.
  • Issuing warning letters to gateway providers: The agency has also been sending warning letters to gateway providers that enable robocalls to reach US consumers from overseas.
  • Blocking a voice service provider: In November 2022, the FTC blocked a voice service provider from the US phone network for its role in facilitating illegal robocalls.
  • Educating consumers: The agency has been working to educate consumers about how to protect themselves from robocalls, by providing tips on how to spot and avoid these calls.

You can opt out of telemarketing robocalls

Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call.

FCC Takes on Mortgage Scam Robocall Campaign Targeting Homeowners

The Commission’s Enforcement Bureau took action after MV Realty apparently used Twilio networks and PhoneBurner dialing tools to flood homeowners with robocalls with misleading claims about mortgages. (News Release – January 24, 2023)

FCC Closes Door on International Robocall Scammers

At the May 2022 Open Meeting, the FCC adopted new rules to stop illegal robocalls that originate outside the U.S. from entering American phone networks. (News Release – May 20, 2022)

These actions have been effective in reducing the number of illegal robocalls that reach US consumers. According to the FTC, the number of complaints it received about unwanted calls dropped by 31% in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Check out the consumer guide on Call Blocking Tools and Resources, which includes information on many of the call-blocking and labeling tools currently available to consumers.

Learn more about FCC Initiatives to Combat Robocalls and Spoofing and download the FCC Report on Robocalls.

File a complaint with the FCC if you believe you have received an illegal call or text, or if you think you’re the victim of a spoofing scam. 

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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