U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of the Democratic Party has recently urged telecoms to provide their customers with the option of blocking unsolicited robocalls. The Senator wants the technology to be easily accessed by both landline and mobile phone users.
In a recent statement, Schumer said the anti-robocalling tech should work very much like e-mail spam blockers, i.e. whenever an automated call is made by a telemarketer, the call would be redirected in a “spam” box just like on an e-mail account.
The Senator argued that the intervention is necessary because telemarketers keep harassing customers despite the Federal Trade Commission’s Do-Not-Call rules. Currently, hundreds of thousands of Americans receive unwanted receive robocalls, and they don’t have any option to block them.
According to Consumers Union, more than 300,000 complaints on unwanted telemarketing calls were filed in Sept. 2014.
But robocalls are not only annoying. They can also be dangerous. Thousands of people have complained that beside the usual automatic calls from credit card companies and mortgage firms, they had also received scam calls.
Schumer explained that the most frequent scam via phone is the tax scam, i.e. an automated call informs the user that he or she owes money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Next, the victims are urged to transfer the money to an account through wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
The FTC cautioned that scammers impersonate IRS employees and can even display phony IRS badges. They can easily tweak the caller ID to look like you are actually speaking to the IRS. The robocalls often state that you owe the federal agency money in unpaid taxes and, thus, you may risk jail time. Scammers may also have access to the last four digits of their victims’ social security numbers.
The FTC recommends users to not fall for these scams. Firstly, the IRS does not contact taxpayers by phone. If indeed there is a problem, they will contact you via e-mail. Secondly, the IRS never threatens people over phone. And also be wary that the agency does not use the e-mail or a social media account to collect your financial or personal data. Only online scammers do.
Recently Time Warner Cable said that it would set in place a robocall blocker called “Nomorobo.” Schumer expects others to soon follow suit.
According to the FTC rules, telemarketers need to provide phone users with info on their name, their company or entity, and a phone number or address at which you can contact them and tell them to stop calling you. Plus, any telemarketing calls not made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. are illegal.
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