As FCC Steps In, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, May Get Boost To Stop Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission is pushing the telecom industry to step up attacks on robocallers, which could provide another tool for consumers.

The FCC knows better than anyone how bad the robocall crisis is (FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has called it a “scourge”) simply because of the flood of complaints the agency gets.

Unwanted calls are far and away the biggest consumer complaint to the FCC with over 200,000 complaints each year—around 60 percent of all the complaints we receive.

–“The FCC’s Push to Combat Robocalls & Spoofing,” FCC


[UPDATE] Verizon is getting ready to offer a free robocall blocking app at the end of this month, as it steps up efforts to combat the growing plague of spam calls.

Update (Thursday March 28, 2019): here’s the new free app.

In 2019, pretty much everyone is on a robocaller’s speed-dial list. That often means several spam calls per day.

Verizon knows this of course. It already offers a paid blocking app for $2.99 a month. But the new freemium (free + premium) strategy means that in addition to the paid app, there will now be a free* version…


October 29, 2018

Just weeks after the Social Security Administration (SSA) warned about an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) impersonation scheme, the Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is raising an alert about a new scam. This time, the scheme involves thieves who are engaging in caller-ID “spoofing” which echoes a pattern where thieves pretend to be from government agencies, like those scammers who are spoofing calls from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)…

July 22, 2018

Why can’t the government catch these guys? That was the sentiment echoed in my inbox over and over as those Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation phone scams exploded. It felt painfully slow, but arrests were finally made in the United States and India. This week, many of those scammers were sentenced for their crimes.

Twenty-one members of a massive India-based fraud and money laundering conspiracy faced sentencing hearings this week in Houston, Texas. The defendants had ties to India-based call centers that targeted U.S. residents and cheated thousands out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

July 20, 2018

It may be summer, but the bad guys aren’t taking a vacation. The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, has issued a warning about an ongoing phone scam from thieves pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

As part of the con, scammers try to convince you to give up personal information, like Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, over the phone. In another case, a caller claims to be from “SSA headquarters” and asks you to confirm personal information, such as an SSN, “new” Medicare number, address, and date of birth…

June 12, 2018

4.1 billion. That’s the number of robocalls made to American consumers last month, according to the robocall index operated by YouMail, a robocall blocking service.

Managing illegal robocalls has been the FCC’s responsibility since the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was signed in 1991, but a recent court decision means the FCC must reconsider how it defines—and handles—the most annoying phone calls.

In March, the U.S. federal appeals court in D.C. found that the Commission’s definition of autodialer could potentially apply to smartphones, and had to be reworked…

June 11, 2018

Caller ID is an automatic feature offered by every telecommunications carrier to identify a calling party to the recipient. While there are options to block outgoing identification in order not to transmit your phone number if privacy is desired the system also fosters the ability to deceive. Some telephone companies will send only the phone number, and others will also send the subscriber name. Outbound caller ID options are associated with non-toll numbers only. If you blocked your number from appearing on the telephone you are calling, the rules do not apply to toll-free access so if you call an 800 number, for example, regardless whether you block your identity, it will still be displayed because the recipient is actually paying for the call…

March 6, 2018

Be careful out there. That’s the word from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as the tax agency reminds taxpayers about continuing aggressive phone scams. Those phone scams are “a major threat to taxpayers” and as such, continued to hold down a top spot on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2018 filing season.

The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. However, many of these schemes peak during filing season – especially scam phone calls…

April 24, 2017

Taxpayers across the country breathed a sigh of relief after the arrest of Sagar Thakkar, a 24-year-old Indian man accused of running those Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone scams. Indian police arrested Thakkar earlier this month, claiming he was the mastermind behind the scam where callers posed as IRS agents to collect bogus tax debts. According to the local police, the lack of response from American law enforcement authorities familiar with the investigation has been deafening.

The call centers at the center of the scam investigation were headquartered in Thane, a suburb outside of Mumbai, India. In an interview with Forbes India, Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh discussed Thakkar’s role in the scam, suggesting that he was more of a “greedy youngster than a hardened criminal.” Thakkar, known as “Shaggy,” was said to be making more than 10 million rupees ($155,000) a day, or over a million dollars per week, at the scam’s peak…

February 27, 2017

The “Dirty Dozen” list of Tax Scams for 2017 has been released by the Internal Revenue Service. Inside this list resides some all too common and devastating tax horrors of which to be aware and vigilant. The top 4 most common tax scams are: phishing, phone scams, identity theft and return preparer fraud. Let’s take them one at a time to make sure you have a seamless tax season…