Like many of you, I don’t answer my cell phone unless the number pops up as someone I know, because a majority of the calls I get are spam or robocalls. It’s so frustrating.
Although these calls are probably a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – the federal enforcement agency with oversight of TCPA violations – and states’ Attorneys General have limited resources to enforce the millions of illegal robocalls that we all receive daily.
Some progress was made this week against scam telemarketers by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who secured $1.5 million in judgments against Consumer Rights Legal Services, which was calling consumers to perpetrate a fraud. According to Becerra, although the name Consumer Rights Legal Services sounds like an organization that will help consumers, the opposite was true—it was offering fake money-recovery services to over 150 investors—most of whom were elderly. These despicable telemarketers were calling elderly individuals and telling them that they could recover money lost from previous investments for a fee of several thousand dollars. In doing so, according to the Attorney General, they were preying on consumers who had already been victims of fraud.
Good for the California AG for protecting consumers from robocalls and fraudulent telemarketers. But what can we do on a daily basis to try to combat robocalls, telemarketers and others who are violating laws by calling us without our express consent?
Because it is such a problem and a nuisance, the FTC has a section of its website devoted to robocalls and what to do about them (www.consumer.ftc.gov). According to the website, the FTC has brought more than “a hundred lawsuits against over 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.” It suggests that you register on the national Do Not Call list (which I have done, though it doesn’t eliminate all robocalls as those making illegal robocalls are not looking to comply with the Do Not Call list), and report the illegal call to the FTC. It suggests that you hang up when you receive an unwanted robocall. There is a good video on the website that was developed with the AARP that is worthwhile for seniors to watch, as they are particularly vulnerable. There is also new technology offered by telephone providers meant to help block robocalls, which you can sign up for with your carrier.
Knowing that these scammers are targeting seniors, I suggest that you educate the seniors in your life about illegal robocall scams, assist them with registering on the Do Not Call list, sign up for the robocall blocking technology with their service carrier, and tell them to hang up when they get a robocall or telemarketing call.