Can You Rely on the New Robocall Bill’s Promise of a Spam-Free Future?

On December 30, 2020, American President Donald Trump signed into law a new robocall bill called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. This anti-robocall bill promises to put a stop to America’s robocall problem that has exacerbated in recent years.

While the TRACED Act got set in motion in 2020, government officials state that robocalls will not be abolished for years to come. Richard Shockey, a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) technical advisory board, even predicted that the industry would probably need ten more years to nip the robocall situation in the bud.

Who Voted Against the Robocall Bill?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the anti-robocall bill on a 429-3 vote. Among those who voted with a nay were the Amazona Congressman Andy Biggs, U.S. Representative Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash (former member of the Republican Party).

Briggs said that, while the Senate robocall bill is well-intentioned, it cannot mitigate the robocall problem America is currently facing, adding that unelected bureaucrats at the FCC should not inherit Congress’ regulatory authority.

According to Biggs, instead of passing robocall bills, Congress should make the stakeholders come together in an effort to find the best solutions and pass laws that will ensure the legal use of robocalls.

New Robocall Law Calls For STIR/SHAKEN Standards

One of the changes the new robocall law will implement is the use of STIR/SHAKEN standards. Phone providers have to come up with adequate caller ID authentication solutions that will put a stop to spoofed scam robocalls.

Advanced caller ID authentication will help both the law enforcement and the consumers to identify illegal robocalls and thus reduce their frequency and impact.

Meaning of STIR/SHAKEN Standards

STIR/SHAKEN are acronyms for the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards. Essentially, it is a complex framework of pertinent standards.

When a call travels through America’s phone network, it will have to be signed by the originating carrier and validated by other carriers before reaching the user.

By digitally validating numbers, phone carriers will be able to establish that a number is not spoofed and that it is safe for the customer to pick up the call.

Defining Robocalls and How They Work

All calls placed by using an autodialer are considered to be robocalls. Whether you have received a pre-recorded message or a voicemail, as long as the caller used a machine to dial you, you are dealing with a robocall.

Given that a small percentage of people who receive a robocall respond to it, scam callers have to make sure that they dial as many numbers as they possibly can quickly.

One of the reasons why robocalls have become a serious problem in the U.S. has to do with the fact that modern autodialing technology got incredibly advanced.

Telemarketers and scam callers can dial up to one million numbers in a single hour!

Apart from being able to dial many numbers in a short period, scam callers started spoofing their numbers to increase the likelihood of someone picking up the call.

Because of the so-called “Neighborhood Spoofing” method, you should avoid answering calls coming from numbers similar to yours!

Robocalls Were Illegal Even Before the Anti-Robocall Bill

The FCC cannot forbid politicians and charities to use robocalls during their campaigns. Because of these double-standards, robocalls became a pretty complicated matter from a legal standpoint.

The Federal Trading Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission have created a set of rules that telemarketers and other legal businesses have to abide by in order not to break the law when using autodialers.

First of all, a company cannot force you to give them your written consent to call you about their products and services.

Other rules include:

  • A company cannot place a robocall before 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • You must be given an option to opt-out of their calls
  • The caller must provide adequate identification
  • A company cannot dial you if your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry
  • A company can dial you only if they have your express written consent

Check out the FCC guide to robocalls to learn more about fighting irritating spam and scam calls.

Options Are Mandatory

Even if a business has permission to call you, they have to provide you with an option to opt-out of their calls.

If you are left with a pre-recorded message, it has to offer you to press a certain number to opt-out of the company’s robocalls. If you are left with a voicemail, it must provide you with a toll-free, call-back number that you can dial and place your number on the company’s Do Not Call list.

No Identification, No Cooperation

No matter who is on the other end of the call, they have to reveal their true identity to make the call legal.

At the beginning of each call, the caller has to:

  1. Reveal the identity of the company on whose behalf the call is being placed
  2. Reveal his or her identity

At the end of the call, the caller must:

  1. Leave you with the company’s address
  2. Leave you with the company’s phone number

The FTC’s Do Not Call Registry Protects You From Legal Spam Callers

In case you are not sure whether you have already put your number on FTC’s registry, we have written a handy guide on how to check if your number is on the Do Not Call list.

Taking this precautionary measure costs you nothing, but it can make a world of difference in dealing with legal spam callers.

Scam robocallers probably will not abide by this rule since they are already engaging in illegal activities.

If you want to place your number on the National Do Not Call Registry now, you can do it by following these simple steps:

  1. Open the FTC’s Do Not Call website
  2. Select Report Unwanted Calls
  3. Provide information regarding the unwanted call you have received
  4. Submit your request

Express Written Consent Is a Must

Even if your number is not on the National Do Not Call Registry, it is still illegal for businesses to robocall you without your express written consent.

This means that you have to provide the company with your digital signature or tick a box on an online form. Express written consents come in various forms that are defined by the E-SIGN Act.

Stopping Robocalls With DoNotPay

If you are wondering how to stop robocalls, DoNotPay has the most efficient and least time-consuming solution for you.

Our app recently got updated with a new feature called Robocall Revenge. You can use it to track down robocallers and sue them for up to $3,000 in court settlements.

To get access to our services, simply open DoNotPay in a web browser or download our iOS app. We can help you lower your bills, assist you with paying bills, manage your subscriptions, etc.

Here is how dealing with annoying robocalls looks like with DoNotPay:

  1. You receive a robocall
  2. The scammer tries to extort money from you
  3. You open DoNotPay and click Robo Revenge
  4. Our app provides you with a free virtual credit card
  5. You provide the scammer with the fake card details
  6. Based on the transaction details, we track down the scammer and help you file a robocall lawsuit

Keeping Your Money Safe With DoNotPay’s Free Trial Card

Virtual credit cards are the perfect solution to dealing with fraudulent scam callers. Apart from keeping your real information hidden and protected, our fake credit card allows us to track down domestic scam robocallers, write dispute letters, and file claims against them on your behalf.

For now, DoNotPay cannot do much when it comes to international scam calls, as we need the caller’s address to be able to help you sue them in court.

DoNotPay can also put your number on FTC’s Do Not Call Registry so that you do not have to report the robocall yourself.

Dangerous Robocall Scams to Watch Out For

While there are plenty of active robocall scams making rounds across the country, these are the most common and most dangerous ones:

Type of Scam

What It Entails

IRS scam

Probably the most daunting robocall scam is the IRS scam. Victims are usually threatened by arrest warrants if they fail to pay their alleged tax bills. IRS scammers identify themselves as IRS inspectors and can often provide a badge number to prove it. You should know that the government never communicates with its taxpayers this way. If you had an overdue tax bill, you would receive a notice via U.S. Mail, not get a threatening call by an alleged IRS inspector.

Google SEO scam

Google SEO scammers typically target small business owners and threaten to delete their Google listings if they do not pay additional SEO fees. Note that Google does not use autodialers to contact its users. Next time someone threatens to wipe your presence off the internet, you will know that you are dealing with a fraudster.

Government Grants scam

If you are dealing with a Government Grants scam, the caller will offer you free government money based on your newly acquired grant eligibility. The only thing you will be asked to do is pay a small one-time processing fee for the money to get transferred to your account. Do not fall for this. Free government money is always free; there are no processing fees to pay for, nothing!

Block Annoying Robocalls on Your Mobile Phone

All new smartphones come with a built-in number blocking feature. When it comes to fraudulent scam callers, this is not something that is going to make a huge difference since scam robocallers tend to change their numbers frequently.

This feature works beautifully when you want to fight back against robocalls placed by legal businesses and telemarketers.

Blocking Numbers on iOS Devices

iOS users have the option to block a specific number or silence all unknown callers. To block a specific number on an iOS device, you have to:

  1. Open the Phone app
  2. Select Recents
  3. Tap on the info icon next to the number
  4. Select Block this Caller
  5. Select Block Contact

To silence all unknown callers, you should:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select Phone
  3. Turn on the Silence Unknown Callers switch

Blocking Numbers on Android Devices

If you are using an Android device, you can block a certain number or block all unidentified numbers. To do the former, you need to :

  1. Open the Phone app
  2. Select Recent Calls
  3. Tap the number and select Block or Report as Spam
  4. Confirm the message asking you if you want to block this number

To block all unidentified numbers, you can:

  1. Open the Phone app
  2. Select Settings
  3. Turn on the switch for blocking all unidentified numbers

How to Stop Spam Robocalls

Because of how overwhelming robocalls have become, phone carriers decided to provide their customers with free scam call blocking services. While these can be effective, it would be best to settle for a third-party robocall blocker such as:

Third-Party App

What It Offers

Nomorobo

  • Free two-week trial period
  • $1.99 per month
  • Completely free for VoIP landlines
  • Free number lookup service
  • Large scam numbers database

RoboKiller

  • Free one-week trial period
  • $2.99 per month for Android devices
  • $3.99 per month for iOS devices
  • Includes text spam filtering
  • Answer Bots feature
  • Customizable Answer Bot messages

YouMail

  • Free reverse phone lookup feature
  • Free for basic services
  • $5.99 per month for YouMail Plus
  • $10.99 per month for YouMail Professional
  • Awesome transcription feature

Truecaller

  • Free for basic services
  • $2.99 per month
  • $26.99 per year for Truecaller Premium
  • $249 per year for Truecaller Premium Gold
  • Efficient Caller ID authentication

How Do Scam Robocall Operations Work?

Domestic scam callers do not have to put too much effort into making their frauds lucrative. It is easy for them to acquire leads, get into America’s phone network, etc. To run a successful robocall scam, fraudsters need to:

  • Purchase millions of numbers
  • Get into America’s phone network
  • Set the autodialer in motion
  • Run a phone bank
  • Convert the income

Purchasing Leads Lists

Many businesses sell leads lists to telemarketers at fairly low prices. Scammers also acquire phone numbers this way, and for just a few thousands of dollars, they can get access to millions of leads.

Getting a Phone Provider

Since the FTC and the FCC closely monitor what major phone carriers are doing, scammers tend to opt for small phone providers that are glad to let them into America’s phone network for the right price. The new TRACED Act addresses this issue directly, so hopefully, small phone providers will not be able to do this in the future.

Setting the Autodialer in Motion

For the scam robocall operation to turn out successfully, fraudsters need to reach as many people as they possibly can in a short timeframe. Advanced autodialers are a key step in this process, as they allow scammers to reach up to one million people in a single hour.

Running a Phone Bank

If you respond to a robocall by giving them a call-back, a real person will answer the phone and try to get a hold of your personal information or money. Fake customer representatives are essential to the process, as they are the ones in charge of making you take the bait.

Quickly Converting the Income

Finally, the scammers have to quickly convert their income into other forms of money that are the least likely to get traced. Gift cards are most commonly used for these purposes.

A Few Tips to Protect Yourself From Robocalls

Until the new robocall bill puts a stop to scam calls once and for all, there are certain precautionary measures that you can take to protect yourself from annoying and malicious scam callers:

  • Do not answer calls coming from unknown numbers
  • Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry
  • Do not reveal your personal information

No Answer—No Worries!

As a general rule, you should try not to answer calls coming from unknown numbers, especially if they are too similar to yours! This way, you will avoid getting harassed by a telemarketer or tricked by a scammer.

Put Your Number on the Do Not Call List

By placing your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, you will at least prevent legal businesses from spamming you with their marketing calls.

Contact the FTC for additional information regarding the Do Not Call list expiration and the Do Not Call list exceptions.

Keep Your Information to Yourself

No matter how persuasive and aggressive the caller is, never reveal your personal information to them. Scammers often need your information more than they need your money as they can use it for larger-scale frauds, such as identity theft.

DoNotPay Is With You Through Thick and Thin

If you are looking for a digital assistant that can help you deal with more than just robocalls, DoNotPay is the way to go. Start using our services today by accessing DoNotPay in a web browser or by downloading the iOS app. DoNotPay offers many useful features that can assist you with: