Can We Defeat the Robocall Uprising?


Robocalls – whether you love them or hate them – are an increasingly prevalent part of our lives. It seems like every day, there’s a new type of robocall that is more sophisticated than the last. From scam calls to spam calls and even political ones, robocalls have become a nuisance for many. But what can you do to protect yourself from these unwanted intrusions?

What are robocalls? 

A Robocall is an automated message, which is triggered to play when a call connects or it hears you speak. They have been used for years in different capacities, such as taxi arrival announcements or confirmation messages for an order or appointment. Unfortunately, the use of this technology has given rise to them being used to scam people.

Once the scam call establishes a connection with you the message that follows will likely be telling you that someone has gained access to an account, and they need you to confirm several details with them. The details could be for your bank account, your PIN, or anything that is going to give them access to your finances or personal data. Another tactic this Robocall may use is that your account has become compromised, and you need to move your money to another ‘secure’ account to which they have access to. There are several different scenarios used by these thieves, but all of them will give them access to your private information. 

What is being done to stop the scammers? 

Robocalls are a quick and easy way to send out messages and information and are used by numerous companies and businesses the world over. And they can be useful for everyday, minimal tasks. So the idea of them being completely removed from use to deal with fraudulent Robocalls is not the solution.  There are many constructs that the government has implemented to deal with the 133 million spam calls that US consumers are dealing with on a daily basis. While this sort of automated advertising and fraud is not a practice in many regions of the world, it is still a concern in the US.

Government Efforts to Curb Dangerous Robocalls Are Paying Off, According to Robokiller Insights
Image: Robokiller Insights

The FCC has policies and mitigation plans in place for companies who use Robocalls legally which will lead to fines and ‘cease and desists’ if any regulations are not followed. They are inhibiting the calls which originate from overseas, and have set up a unique task force who are focusing solely on clamping down on the scammers who are misusing this technology. Analytical systems are used to look for patterns in data, which aid in recognizing the frequency of calls, where they originate, and what information they are trying to obtain. All of this gathered intel is used to create spam alerts and spam blockers, which are then put in place by service providers. 

Are the government efforts working? 

The systems and teams that have been put in place have certainly been making an impact on the calls being received by consumers. Car warranty Robocalls have dropped 35% since December, student loan calls dropped 33% and, after a spike in the holiday season, home mortgage Robocalls dropped 54%.

The crackdown is showing vast improvement in stopping the calls from getting through, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean to say the scams have decreased too. Consumers are still at risk of losing their savings, the average scammer manages to get at least $1200 per person they target.

Keep yourself safe from scammers

  • Block persistent callers
  • Check if your phone provider or smartphone has a system in place to block unwanted calls
  • Report the calls to your service provider
  • Never give out your personal details over the phone
  • Use caller ID
  • If in doubt, end the call and phone the company back using a number you trust

To summarise, robocalls have decreased significantly due to a crackdown on the perpetrators. However, consumers are still at risk of being scammed out of their savings. To protect themselves, consumers should take measures such as blocking persistent callers, checking with their phone provider for blocking systems, and reporting suspicious calls. It is also important to never give out personal details, use caller ID and hang up if there is any doubt.

Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Sol Vazquez. The statistics graphic in the body of the article has been provided as part of a press kit of Robokiller Insights.
Source:  Robokiller Insights press release

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Katherine Hames
Katherine Hames
Tech Journalist
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