Take action to protect yourself from robocalls

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cellular phones used to be a safe haven for those who didn’t want to receive telemarketing calls.

Those days are long over, to the point that many of us won’t answer a call from a number that’s not already in the contacts list on our smartphone.

“If it’s important, they’ll leave a message” seems to be the mantra. Texting or SMS or Facebook messaging is more and more the connection of choice, and not just for millennials or younger.

The “Do Not Call Registry” seems to be ineffective against robocalls, many of which cause “spoofed” or misleading caller ID to be displayed on your phone.

Spoofing itself is illegal under the Truth in caller ID Act, which carries penalties of up to $10,000 fore each violation.

The penalty bar is raised if the calls are made to defraud or steal the identity of the person who answers the call.

It’s not surprising that stopping illegal robocalls is a top consumer protection priority by the Federal Communication Commission.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed by Congress in 1991, also restricts the making of unwanted calls including telemarketing and robocalls. The FCC website contains resources and good information for consumers to utilize as a means of stopping unwanted calls, including links to call blocking resources provided by both wireless carriers and landline service providers.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson urges consumers to:

­— Register their phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, which protects both landline, and wireless numbers.

­— Check with your service provider to see if they offer any advanced tools or apps to block robocalls or features built into your calling device.

­— Download and activate a robocalls blocking app.

­— Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.

­— If a number is spoofed, just hang up. Interacting with the caller or pressing other buttons may lead to more robocalls.

­— Never respond to requests for personal information, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords or other identifying information in response to an unexpected call.

­— Use caution if the caller urges you to take immediate action.

­— File a complaint with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center , 1-888-CallFCC (225-5322).

For more information about the Do Not Call Registry and other tips on how to protect against common scams, consumers should visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection website or call 800-727-6432 or 402-471-2682.

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