man screaming at robocalls

Decline in robocalls is encouraging, efforts seem to be working

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that its recent actions with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against international robocalls appear to have had an effect.

Robocalls are automated phone calls, often associated with scams and unwanted solicitations, which can be a nuisance to individuals and businesses alike.

In November, 2023, the FCC and FTC sent separate, but coordinated, warning letters to specific gateway providers demanding these providers cease to serve as entry ways for international robocalls to the US. Failure by a gateway provider to take reasonable and effective steps to prevent their networks from transmitting illegal traffic could ultimately result in an order by the FCC directing downstream providers to block and cease accepting all of the gateway provider’s traffic, they were warned.

From the reduced number of traceback requests the FCC deducts that this has had a positive effect. According to USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group (ITG), there is a downward trend in tracebacks related to traffic entering the US network through these providers.

The ITG is a group of companies from across the wireline, wireless, VoIP, and cable industries that collaborate to trace, source, and ultimately, stop illegal robocalls.

Robocalls are not only an annoying waste of time and resources, they often serve as a prelude to more targeted scams. Scam calls in particular can result in serious financial losses and frustration. So the FCC has made combatting unlawful robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing a top consumer protection priority.

There are apps that can help you block robocalls. Malwarebytes for iOS, for example, blocks all incoming robocalls and text message scams. The Malwarebytes iOS app also protects you from phishing attacks and malware. If, by chance, you click a malicious link or attempt to navigate to a fraudulent site, Malwarebytes will block the site from loading.

Some wireless companies are also providing services, which will display some variation of the message “possible scam” on the screen for unknown numbers that call you.

What to do if you answer a robocall

When you receive a call from someone outside your contact list only to hear a recorded message playing back at you, that’s a robocall.

  1. Hang up as soon as you realize that it is an automated robocall.
  2. Do not engage with the call at all.
  3. Don’t follow any instructions.
  4. Avoid giving away any personal information.
  5. Report the robocall.
    • If you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
    • If you didn’t lose money and just want to report a call, use the streamlined reporting form at DoNotCall.gov
    • If you believe you received an illegal call or text, report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

It is important to not engage in any conversation or respond to any prompts to minimize the risk of fraud. Even the smallest snippets of your voice being recorded, can be used in scams against you or your loved ones.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.