Like you, we at the FCC understand how frustrating unwanted telemarketing, spoofed, and robotic phone calls can be. We’re consumers too, and we get our fair share of sham calls congratulating us on a “free vacation” or warning us that our auto warranty is about to expire. Advances in robocalling technology have made it faster and cheaper for telemarketers and scammers to keep our phones ringing with unwanted calls. One of our most important jobs is to help consumers avoid these calls and – if they get them – make sure they know what to do about them. Robocalls can be more than just annoying; they can be a vehicle for fraud and identity theft.
What are we doing to help consumers? We’ve ensured that robocallers must get your permission before making most types of calls to your cell phone. We’re working with phone companies and many others to improve call blocking tools so that you can better control the calls you get – and don’t get. We also want to get the word out on the worst scams. Criminals don’t play by our rules, so we’ll be ramping up our efforts to ensure consumers are aware of the latest telemarketing scams and fraud attempts for which you should be on the lookout. More on these efforts is coming soon.
We often hear from consumers about calls that are clearly bogus and are designed to take their money. If you get a call from someone claiming to be a government entity such as the IRS or a local official such as a police officer and they demand money, something else of value, or threaten to arrest or sue you, it’s almost certainly a scam. Don’t give in: hang up immediately and do not give any personal information. Do not even say “stop calling” or press a button they offer you to stop calls; these can be used by callers to identify active phone numbers (and thus targets). Don’t trust the caller even if their caller ID seems legitimate – caller ID is all too easy to fake.
If you get such a call, file a complaint with the FCC and provide us with the phone number and any other key details about the call. Such feedback is important. Place your number on the National Do Not Call list to reduce telemarketing calls, and check out our tips. Ask your phone company what tools it offers to help you block unwanted calls. We are currently working with these providers to ensure consumers have more and more tools made available to them to stop unwanted calls. And, if you have any doubt whether a call is a scam, look up the legitimate number of the agency or department, and call them directly to ask if they called you.