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Opinion: Robo Calls, Everyone's Nightmare | News

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Opinion: Robo Calls, Everyone's Nightmare
News, People
Opinion: Robo Calls, Everyone's Nightmare

I just read an article about robo calls in the Consumers Report magazine (September issue) called “Rage Against Robo Calls.” Telemarketing fraud that often begins with a robo call is estimated to cost consumers $350 Million dollars a year.

Some of the most common types of calls state that your computer has a virus, then promise to fix it, if you provide access to your computer, thereby opening the door to identity theft. The IRS scam is another one that has been going for months. The caller threatens, saying you will be jailed or imprisoned because of taxes you owe, even leaving messages like this on answering machines. In the first place, the IRS does not make phone calls and secondly, if you do not owe anything to the IRS, why would you ever take this serious? Another claims that you did not show for jury duty and asks that you verify your date of birth and Social Security number.

People involved in these schemes can obtain something called VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol. By doing this, they can set up shop anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection and place thousands of calls for just pennies. It is as cheap to make a call from India and it is from Indiana. No phone is safe from their calls. If robo calls were a disease, they would be an epidemic. Every month more than 150,000 consumers complain to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. These are automatic calls hoping someone on the other end will pick up.

Some calls will tell you to press #1 to get the message and then some will say, press #2 if you no longer want to receive these calls. By doing this, it tells the perpetrator that there is a live person at the other end of the line and then they will pass your number on to other markets and then the calls will increase.

What is especially frustrating is that you may not realize an incoming call is a robo call because robo callers “spoof” or hide behind familiar numbers to fool the caller ID and entice you to pick up. If you answer the phone only to hear the start of a robo call spiel, says Associate Director of the FTC, Lois Greisman, her advice is very basic: As soon as you hear the first recorded words, hang up the phone.

Here at the station, I get calls on a daily basis from people getting scam robo calls. The most common quote from them is, “I just think this should be made known so that senior citizens should not be taken advantage of.” The station has reported many, many times on this but invariably the caller will say, “I must have missed that.” This is a subject people should be talking about between themselves, at home, with friends and at meeting places.

I also know there are a lot of lonely people out there who probably answer the phone without thinking but if you have called ID, a good rule is, don’t answer any calls when you do not recognize the number. If it is an important call, they will leave a message for you to return the call, or if you hear them leaving a message and know who it is, then pick up the phone.

One thing everyone can do who has a computer is to sign a petition at EndRobocalls.org.

News, People