The Commission Takes Action
The Commission has unanimously approved a Declaratory Ruling that AI-generated voice calls be classified as robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Effective immediately, calls using voice cloning technologies are now, absent some exceptions, considered illegal unless a consumer had expressly given their consent to receive the call.
You have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence, commonly known as AI. Well, scammers have too, and they are now using AI to make it sound like celebrities, elected officials, or even your own friends and family are calling.
Also known as voice cloning, these technologies emulate recognizable voices for robocalls to consumers and are often used in imposter scams that spread misinformation, endorse products, or steal money and personal information. Scammers may try to fool an unsuspecting grandparent that a grandchild is in trouble and needs immediate financial assistance or solicit donations to a fake charity endorsed by what sounds like a trusted celebrity.
Consumers should also watch out for text messages that may include links to AI-generated “deep fake” videos that feature celebrities and political figures. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that consumers have been pushed by deep-faked celebrities Gordon Ramsey, Taylor Swift, and Jennifer Garner to counterfeit websites offering cookware. While the videos look real, the celebrity in the video is generated using AI and did not actually film the message or request for support.
Follow these consumer tips to avoid robocall and robotext scams:
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- Always proceed with caution when a caller is pressuring you for information or money immediately.
- If the caller claims to be a family member or friend in distress. Reach out to that person directly to confirm they need help before sending any money.
- If the caller claims to be celebrity or political figure don’t share any personal information or account information during the call. After the call do research online to see if the cause is really one that celebrity endorses or that the information provided is accurate.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes."
- You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Spoofing tricks Caller ID into showing a "local" number but that does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
- Check out the FCC consumer guide on Call Blocking Tools and Resources, which includes information on many of the call blocking and labeling tools currently available to consumers.
- To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.
- 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 scam.
Commitment to Consumer Protection
The FCC is committed to doing what we can to protect you from these scams and is cracking down in a variety of ways: The FCC has established working relationships with 48 states’ attorneys general with the goal of shutting down illegal AI voices and texts. These state partners often have strong enforcement powers under state laws to combat local, targeted robocall campaigns. Other actions the FCC has taken to intercede on consumers’ behalf include:
- Issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement actions against illegal robocallers.
- Empowering phone companies to block by default illegal or unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics before the calls reach consumers.
- Allowing consumer to use tools to block calls from any number that doesn't appear on a customer's contact list or other "whitelist."
- Requiring phone companies to implement caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.
- Making consumer complaint data available to enable better call blocking and labeling solutions.