“Just hang up”
In 2003, when the Bush administration started the National Do Not Call Registry, it did a fantastic job at reducing or completely eliminating annoying calls from telemarketers. But after five or six years, the calls started happening again, and it wasn’t because the government stopped enforcing the law. It was because the internet made phone scams cheap and the perpetrators are mostly overseas and hard to track. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans now lose over $350 million dollars a year to robocall scams.
Last month, the FCC issued a public warning about a scam people are falling for across the country. Scammers have been sending out robocalls that open with a female voice asking, “Can you hear me?” When people respond by saying yes, the scammer records their voice. Then the robocall plays back their voice claiming they’ve agreed to purchase something. If the victim doesn’t pay up immediately, the scammer threatens legal action.
The FCC warms that if you receive a call like this, to immediately hang up. If you believe you may have already received the call, to review your bank, credit card, and telephone statements to be sure you haven’t been charged. You can also report the incident to the Better Business Bureau scam tracker and the FCC’s consumer help center.
The FCC has also provided these tips to ward off scams and unwanted calls:
Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let unknown calls go to voicemail.
If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify and target live respondents.
If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC so it can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by illegal callers.
Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one. You can also visit the FCC’s website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls.
Consider registering all of your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.