CHARLOTTE, NC. - In recent years, the use of robocalls has increased drastically, making it one of the most common methods used by scammers to defraud individuals. The North Carolina Attorney General, Josh Stein, has prioritized combating these types of calls, as they often target vulnerable individuals and seek to exploit the generosity of people. With the rise of online shopping, the number of robocalls before the holidays has also increased.
One of the most common themes of robocalls is the offer of credit card or auto loan relief, home mortgage insurance, and student loan relief. In addition, scammers often pretend to be someone you know, such as your employer or a friend, to hide the real number they are calling from. According to Stein, scammers will exploit the day's news to rip people off, which is why individuals need to be aware and vigilant.
To combat robocalls, the Federal Communication Commission has mandated that large phone companies ensure that every call on their network that shows up on your caller ID comes from the number that the call is coming from. The technology used to stop these spoofing calls is called Stir/Shaken.
However, smaller phone companies had until June 2023 to comply with the federal government, making them easier targets for fraudsters. To address this issue, Stein led a bipartisan coalition of 50 other attorneys general to speed up the compliance deadline to June 2022, giving law enforcement better tools to identify and pursue wrongdoers.
Data from the federal government indicate that individuals in the United States filed 131,792 complaints regarding robocalls and live caller violations of the Do Not Call Registry in 2020. In North Carolina, 129,163 complaints were filed from the beginning of 2021 to September. These calls are not meant to irritate us but to steal from vulnerable individuals, and experts advise against answering calls from unknown numbers.
A June survey conducted by TrueCaller and The Harris Poll found that robocallers defrauded Americans of nearly $30 billion over a single year. This is staggering and highlights the need for individuals to be cautious when receiving calls from unknown numbers. Additionally, the jury duty scamming technique involves a con artist posing as a court official to inform a call recipient that they failed to show up for court and that they can avoid jail time by paying the fine over the phone with a credit or debit card.
These calls frequently appear to come from official locations, such as the county courthouse or sheriff's office. However, it is essential to note that a government agent will never demand payment over the phone and threaten arrest if they do not get it.
Most robocalls come from outside the United States, and swindlers often demand payment in the form of gift cards. According to Stein, anyone asking you for money using a gift card is a criminal. Scams involving robocalls typically, but not always, target older adults. It is heartbreaking to hear stories of individuals losing their life savings, such as the woman in Raleigh who lost over a million dollars earlier this year.
In conclusion, individuals must be aware of the rise of robocalls and the tactics used by scammers. The recent efforts to combat these calls by the North Carolina Attorney General and the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general are a step in the right direction. However, it is up to each of us to protect ourselves and stay vigilant. If you receive a robocall or scam call, you can report it online at www.ncdoj.gov/norobo or by phone at 1-844-8-NO-ROBO (1-844-866-7626). Let us work together to put an end.
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