Consumers throughout the nation are reporting numerous calls from 'Card Member Services' or similar-sounding companies that violate Do Not Call regulations. The best thing you can do? Don’t respond.
The problem with robocalls
Robocalls generally are prerecorded messages sent using auto dialers, which can send thousands of calls per minute for a very low cost. The calls are easy to make but difficult to trace.
Additionally, scammers often use technology called Voice over Internet Protocol or "spoofing" to disguise the phone number that appears on the consumer's caller ID. Through spoofing, a call appearing to be from your bank could be from a con artist in another country.
This technology makes it very difficult for authorities to trace the origin of a robocall.
Robocalls have become such a problem that the Federal Trade Commission– the national agency that maintains the Do Not Call Registry – recently announced a $50,000 reward for anyone who can develop an effective solution for stopping the calls.
What you can do
While authorities search for solutions to the problem, what can you do to limit the calls and protect yourself from scams? First, and most importantly, do not respond to the calls.
Don’t respond in any way, even if the call tells you to press 1 or 2 to “opt-out.” By pressing a button, you are revealing that the phone number is active and was answered by a person. Ironically, trying to “opt out” likely will lead to even more calls.
If you are not on the National Do Not Call Registry, visit www.DoNotCall.gov
or call 888-382-1222 to sign up. Telemarketers covered by the National Do Not Call Registry have up to 31 days from the date consumers register to stop calling.
Even after you register, you may continue to receive robocalls from companies that violate Do Not Call regulations. Instead of responding to these calls, do not answer them, or hang up and report the calls to authorities. (See contact information below.)
Report as much information as possible about the call, including:
The phone number that received the call (likely your own phone number)
Time and date of the call
Number that appeared on your caller ID, if possible
Identity of the caller, if known
Content of the call
Although many unwanted calls are scams originating overseas, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has taken action against businesses that violate Do Not Call regulations. In May, Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against a California investment-software business for calling Ohio consumers who were on the Do Not Call Registry. Similarly, in April, Attorney General DeWine sued a Florida telemarketer for Do Not Call violations.
To report an unwanted telemarketing call to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
or call 800-282-0515. You also can report Do Not Call violations at www.donotcall.gov
Think you might have a solution to the robocall dilemma?
Enter the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge, which asks the public to create solutions to block illegal robocalls. The winner will receive $50,000 in cash. The deadline to submit an entry is Jan. 17, 2013. To learn more about the challenge, visit http://robocall.challenge.gov/