'TRACED ACT' MIGHT REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ROBOCALLS
Robocalls are generated by some computer, somewhere, and send pre - recorded messages to a whole lot of telephones all at once. Basically they are a pain.
Some provide valuable informational services such as weather alerts, power failures, school closings or a doctor's appointment. Annoying as they may be, robocalls from charities and political campaigns are legal.
Debt collection robocalls are legal too, but here is where you really must be careful. First off, a debt collection call is not permitted to attempt to sell you anything. You MUST be completely sure that the caller has the right number, and that you really do owe money. As a rule of thumb, don't commit to a thing that you do not see in writing.
Some robocalls are out-and-out scams. No government agency such as IRS or Social Security Administration or Homekand Security will ever call you. Period.
Robocalls can come cloaked in a variety of disguises. I am getting a lot of them from my old area code, I guess the idea is that I will think the caller is an old neighbor who wants to contact me to return the tool they'd borrowed - - like years ago? I don't think so. Some 'spoof' a number; that is, the caller uses a device that misleads you by hiding the real number. In the past eBay and Craig's List advertisers have been tricked into giving information before the purchaser (i.e. scammer) came to see the object.
This week the US Senate approved legislation called TRACED, that increases penalties for illegal robocalls, increases the time FCC has to catch a robocaller to 3 years, brings together state and federal agencies to formulate and report to Congress policy to deter robocalls, directs FCC to develop rules that protect subscribers from unwanted calls and texts, and requires providers of voice services to authenticate calls before they reach their subscribers.
Meanwhile, there are some ways to be proactive.
Don't pick up the phone if you do not recognize the number. Assuming you have set up voice mail, a legitimate caller will leave a message.
Don't engage the caller, just hang up as soon as you realize that it is a robocall. Engaging the call will confirm that yours is indeed a working number. And do not think that by remaining engaged you are costing the caller money. More likely you are only registering interest and will be placed on the list for more frequent calls.
Register for the Federal Trade Commission's 'Do not call' list. Registration will not stop callers who do not honor the list, but it can reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive, while providing FTC with information about the caller.
Be skeptical. Legitimate retailers will not ask you to pay by purchasing prepaid gift cards such as Amazon or iTunes cards and then reading the scratched-off code to them. Do not give personal information, especially your social security number but also birth date and credit card number over the phone unless you are completely certain of the identity of the caller. Government agencies will not use robocalls to contact you, nor will your bank or credit card company. If you have even a little doubt, hang up and call your bank or whatever to check whether they tried to contact you.
Use a call-blocking service. Some mobile and landline telephone service providers can provide free filters and, usually, for a monthly fee of a few dollars will provide caller-id for numbers that are not in your contact lust.