FTC reports a sharp increase in phone scams from criminals impersonating IRS, Social Security

Julianne Stafford, a special education teacher in Massachusetts, recently got a terrifying phone call: someone claiming to be a Social Security official said a number of bank accounts opened in her name in El Paso, Texas, had been linked to drug trafficking — and that Boston police had a warrant for her arrest.

The only way to clear her name, the caller said, was to pay — by buying two $500 Google Play gift cards and giving the activation codes over the phone…

November 9, 2018

(CNN) Thirty billion robocalls were made to American consumers in 2017, according to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service. And while robocalls, made with an automated dialer or using a prerecorded or artificial voice, torment Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, even on this issue, Washington leadership has found a way to divide along party lines.

The division is not over whether robocalls generally are a nuisance that should be addressed, but over which robocalls should be stopped. The robocalling industry is pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deregulate all automated robocalls made with a human agent by interpreting the definition for “automated telephone dialing systems” (autodialers) in a way that would not cover any automated systems being used by the callers…

October 17, 2018

The problem of unsolicited robocalls has gotten so bad that many people now refuse to pick up calls from numbers they don’t know. It’s become a defense of last resort in an increasingly frustrating situation that’s led to nearly 25 million Americans becoming victims of fraud. If only it were that simple to solve.

By next year, it’s estimated that half of the calls we receive will be scams, but even more worrisome, 90% of those calls will be “spoofed” — falsely appearing as if they’re coming from a familiar number in your contact book…

September 1, 2018

(CNN)The paint on the road near a predominantly Latino community near Des Moines read, “Deport Illegals.”

The sprayed-on sentiment didn’t last the day, but some officials in the Iowa city are worried it’s indicative of a simmering resentment for immigrants that has become more public recently.

The red paint defaced both directions on a two-lane road on the city’s south side on Thursday.

“These actions are unfortunate and not consistent with Des Moines’ spirit of compassion,” Mayor Frank Cownie said. “Such actions have no place in our city.”

A city worker painted over the words later in the day. The city tweeted a photo of the graffiti removal, with the hashtag #NotInOurCity…