Major phone carriers and scam prevention
A key deadline in the fight against phone scams passed on June 30, but you might not have noticed it — unless you’ve noticed that your phone seems to be ringing a lot less than it used to.
The three major carriers —AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon — have met the June 30th Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deadline to implement the FCC’s new anti-spoofing protocol. Some smaller carriers were given an extension of the deadline until 2023, but FCC leaders propose significantly shortening the time smaller carriers will have to comply.
In the world of phone calls, “spoofing” is defined as the act of disguising the source of a call. Spoofing can be used legally or illegally. As a rule, the FCC considers spoofing to be legal when done within its rules; and illegal when done with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
In other words, if the number on your phone’s screen correctly represents the name of the party making the call, and the displayed number is available for callback, then the spoofing is legal. It’s illegal, though, when a scammer calls you pretending to represent a business or government. It’s that second category of calls the FCC’s new rules are aimed at stopping.
Will the new rules work? From what we can observe, it’s so far, so good — but if scammers are good at one thing, it’s adapting to changing circumstances. A scam that disappears in one form is likely to arise again elsewhere.
Consumer tips from the FCC
• Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail. Many scammers will disconnect at that point.
• If the caller claims to be from a legitimate company or organization, hang up and call them back using a valid number found on their website, or on your latest bill if you do business with them.
• If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls, or asks you to say “yes” in response to a question, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents, or to use your “yes” to apply unauthorized charges on your bill.
• Caller ID showing a “local” number does not mean it is necessarily a local caller.
• If you answer and the caller asks for payment using a gift card, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate organizations will not ask for payment with a gift card.
• If you have lost money because of a scam call, contact local law enforcement and your financial institution(s) for assistance.
• Consider registering your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry. Lawful telemarketers use this list to avoid calling consumers on the list.
A Scam Prevention Resources worksheet is available in the Summer 2021 issue of our Spotlight on Seniors newsletter, available while supplies last at libraries countywide, and at www.dutchessny.gov/aging.