Half of All Cellphone Calls in 2019, will be Robocalls from ScammersAlex Mak - Managing Editor 2019-03-07
I don’t know about you, but I get daily robocalls on my cellphone. Most of my friends do too. Some get text messages telling them they’ve won something, some get voice mails telling them they’re in trouble with the ‘IRS’ or ‘the bank’ and they need to buy some kind of protection, some callers are simply selling phony health insurance or the latest snake oil.
What the scammers are after is your money, or your personal information, in order to steal your money. The reason the FBI and FTC haven’t been able to stop them, is because many of these scammers exist offshore, and/or are using web calling technology to hide their locations. In fact, the number you see on your phone when a scammer is calling, is most likely not their real number, they’re using software that generates false numbers and hides the real ones. This is why ‘blocking’ numbers is usually insufficient, the scammers can generate millions of new numbers by the minute, and make the same amount of automated calls.
According to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customer’s caller ID and call blocking technology. nearly half of all cellphone calls in 2019, will be scam calls. And there’s no real end in sight, especially because blocking these numbers is not an effective deterrent.
This is primarily because of a DC circuit court decision in March of 2018. The decision reversed an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission policy that disallowed robocalling of this magnitude. The Obama era policy stipulated that companies autodialing reassigned numbers were effectively violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. But that all came to an end with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who came into the position after President Donald Trump took office, celebrated the reversal of the Obama protections. Now it has never been easier to start a robocalling business in the USA. That is why robocalls have increased by 80% since this decision.
Not all robocalls are from offshore scammers, as you’ll find out in this episode of Reply All, a podcast that investigates all sorts of cyber base crime. Some scammers hide behind legitimate storefronts, like health insurance selling middleman ‘Health Insurance Innovations“, who contract telemarketing companies to connect customers to health insurance plans. They buy your cellphone number from number aggregators, and make millions of calls a day. (With Ajit Pai in charge of the FTC, this is no longer illegal). The problem is, the company does not do quality control when it comes to health plan sales. It’s commission based, so their telemarketers will say anything to sell you a plan, regardless of whether it’s true, and many consumers buy plans under false pretenses, which can end up with them owing thousands or millions for healthcare, when they find out they did not have the coverage they believed they had. HIC has an ‘F’ with the Better Business Bureau, but that doesn’t stop them from contacting millions of people every day. And this is just one example of bad faith business being conducted using robocalls.
DO NOT BUY HEALTH INSURANCE (or anything else) FROM A ROBOCALLER!
Do not trust Health Insurance Innovation with your health insurance. They may make flashy videos, but buyer beware. They are making hundreds of millions of dollars, selling insurance as a middleman, while not accepting any of the liability.
If you feel like you’ve been scammed, and/or you answered one of these calls and gave them personal information you should reach out to the FTC Consumer Complaints Department: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us.
If you’re interested in 3rd party apps that help block spammers or other techniques to protect your phone, this article has a list of options, including Registering with the FTC’s Do Not Call List, creating blocked number lists on your phone, and other techinques.
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Alex Mak - Managing Editor
I'm the managin' editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. When we're not writing, editing, or publishing articles, Stuart and I are promoting the good things in SF & NYC.
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