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Robocall scammers are getting sneakier – here's how to stop them



Molly Rose, a 29-year-old program coordinator at a New York City-based arts nonprofit, used to think of her phone as a critical tool for doing her job. Now it's more like a burden.

"I am super annoyed by the constant bargain of sneaky robot calls, and I also use my phone for work constantly," she said. “Two years ago, I would have answered every call, assuming they were for work. Now I assume they are fake. ”

‘ Two years ago, I would have answered every call, assuming they were for work. Now I assume they are fake. "
                  


—Molly Rose, 29, a program coordinator at a New York City-based arts nonprofit
                          

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill 97 votes to 1

to authenticate and block robocalls, and to introduce penalties of $ 10,000 for companies who unleash a robbery of millions of unsuspecting consumers. Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act takes particular aim at "spoofing," a sneaky practice robocallers use to trick your phone's caller ID to get you to answer.

The bill directs the FCC to ensure that phone companies implement a technology that authenticates caller ID information. The regulatory agency has long had authority for the companies to find and employ a call-authentication framework.

Today, more than half – 52% – of phone calls go unanswered, an analysis of 11 billion calls by caller ID and call -blocker app Hiya found. This comes as 26.3 billion robocalls were made to American phones in 2018, up 46% from the previous year's total of 18 billion, it added.

The FCC has long had authority to require the companies to invent and employ a call-authentication framework.
                  

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YouMail, a competing spam call blocking app and digital voicemail box, put the number at a record -breaking 47.8 billion robocalls made in the US in 2018, an increase of 56.8% over the estimated 30.5 billion robocalls in 2017.

Some of these automated calls come from legitimate telemarketers, others are from scammers looking to rip people off. The top scam in 2018 was a health insurance fraud, which accounted for 5.1 billion robocalls, according to YouMail.

The Federal Communication Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have been working towards solutions to the robocall epidemic for years, levying massive fines against telemarketing operations. In May 2018, the FCC fined a telemarketing company $ 120 million, its largest to date, for scams including "neighbor spoofing."

"Neighbor spoofing" is when scammers make calls to your phone that appear to be from numbers similar to your own.
                  

"Neighbor spoofing" is when scammers make calls to your phone that appear to be from numbers similar to your own. The hope is to trick the victim into believing the call could be from someone they know. More than half of robocalls come from neighboring spoofing numbers and 91% of robocalls come from U.S. numbers, according to YouMail.

Those affected by the robocall influx can fight the problem by using blocking services like YouMail, Hiya, NoMoRobo, and Next Caller. Prices range from about $ 1.99 a month to $ 19.99 a year. Experts also suggest never answering calls from an unknown number and blocking numbers that are known to be spam.

Every consumer should register with the free National Do Not Call Registry, which they can do at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888 -382-1222. This will stop legitimate telemarketers from calling within a month, though it is unlikely to stop illegal scammers.

Your mobile phone company may have some solutions as well. AT & T

                            
                            
                                  
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
                                  
                                     T, + 0.40%

now offers a service called Call Protect; T-Mobile

                            
                            
                                  
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
                                  
                                     TMUS, + 1.66%

has Scam ID and Scam Block. In January,

                            
                            
                                  
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
                                  
                                     VZ, + 0.76%

started to offer robocall protection for customers free of cost. Contact your provider to examine your options.

(Victor Reklaitis contributed to this story.)

(This story was originally published on Jan. 31, 2019.)


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