By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant
Phishing calls are a huge problem for consumers today. Phishing involves using seemingly official communications to obtain confidential information from individuals. Traditionally this was done through the use of spam emails. However, in recent years phishers have turned to the telephone, which many people mistakenly believe are not as susceptible to scams.
The FTC established the National Do Not Call Registry to block telemarketing calls at home. Unfortunately, phishers have figured out ways to get around the Do Not Call list, which has led to a large amount of confusion among consumers. In response, the FTC has published their responses to five commonly asked questions:
- How Do I Make It Stop? If you signed up for the Do Not Call Registry but are still getting unwanted calls, there are some steps you can take. First, hang up immediately and do not interact with the illegal sales calls. Do not press any buttons to be taken off the call list or talk to a live person; this can only lead to more calls. Just hang up and file a complaint at gov. If you get repeated calls from the same number, you can also get your phone company to block that number.
- Why Me? If you still receive unwanted calls despite being on the Do Not Call Registry, you may wonder why you are being targeted. Unfortunately, the reason is that phishing scammers are ignoring the Do Not Call Registry. Legitimate companies know not to call if you name is on the Registry, so any company that is ignoring the Registry is probably a scam.
- What Is the FTC Doing About It? The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and individuals for ignoring the Registry and continuing to place unwanted calls. The FTC is also looking into developing technology-based solutions which could block robocalls and help investigators track down robocallers.
- Is Anyone Listening? If you have filed several complaints, rest assured that your complaint is being heard. The FTC receives a large volume of complaints so they cannot respond directly to each one. However, they are working tirelessly to bring the unwanted calls to a halt, and are taking legal action against wrongdoers.
- But I Gave You the Phone Number of the Company that Called Me? While it may seem simple enough to track down a phone number and stop the caller, it is unfortunately not that easy. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the number reported in your complaint probably isn’t real. This makes it difficult for the FTC to identify the actual caller, although they can use using calling patterns to identify illegal callers. In addition, technology-based solutions in development should help as well.
For more information on how not to become a victim of a phishing investment scam, go here.