Robocall & Spoofing
On February 2nd and 16th, the FCC hosted consumer webinars focusing on how to deal with the dreaded unwanted robocalls and spoofing. The FCC defines a robocall as an automatic, computer-generated phone call made to your phone number (mobile or landline) from a solicitor of some kind. Some are legitimate calls such as doctor appointment reminders, surveys, school closing announcements and political campaign calls. However, a high number of illegal calls, such as scams to defraud consumers of money. Each year, robocalls are the FCC's number one consumer complaint and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expects to receive over 5 million robocall complaints this year.
In October 2016, Hiya, an industry-leading robocall-blocking company, reported Americans received 984 million robocalls on their cellphones in September alone. That's 4.5 robocalls for every mobile phone in the United States. The enemy no longer haunts only landline end users; it's expanded its reach into mobile lines.
Robocalls generally fall into the categories of auto-dialed and artificial voice. Auto-dial occurs when telephone numbers are dialed and dialed and if answered, the number is flagged as a "live one" and the calls keep coming.
Then, there's the artificial voice robocalls. We all know "Racel from card services." Once you or even your voice mail answers the line, "Rachel" and others like her will continue calling.
As for spoofing, consumers experience multiple types on a daily basis. Anonymized spoofing is the caller hiding their identity either through a totally randomized number presented to the call recipient or a number that looks like it is within the call recipient's immediate area. Neighborhooding is a manor anonymized spoofing in which a specific end user is targeted. The spoofer uses the first six digits of the end user's telephone number, but changed the last four to make it appear if someone in their neighborhood is actually calling. The end user is more likely to pick up if the area code and prefix appear the same as their telephone number.
The FCC has a wealth of information on its website to help educate all consumers on robocall rules and actions consumers can employ to alleviate or halt the practices. https://www.fcc.gov/unwanted-calls