Action Line: Robocallers use caller-ID spoofing as part of phishing scams
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Friday, December 21, 2012
12/21/12 at 5:02 AM
Dear Action Line: Are there any Internet sites that look up phone numbers for free? I want to do a reverse look-up to check out a long distance call charge we received. When I did an online search, I received PAGES of suggested sites. I checked out 10 or so, and none worked for free. They look up numbers and state options to choose from to get the owner info but none of them for free. - P.G., Tulsa
A lot of these numbers are "made up" or are the real numbers of people who don't know their numbers are being cited by "robocallers" using "caller-ID spoofing" to contact you, and thousands of your neighbors, as part of their phishing scams.
On Feb. 15, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule changing its telemarketing rules to help protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing robocalls (automatically dialed to deliver prerecorded messages).
"Robocalls invade consumers' privacy and can, in the case of calls to wireless numbers, use up their minutes. The order empowers consumers with increased rights under the FCC's telemarketing rules ( tulsaworld.com/FCCrobocalls). The new rules reduce regulatory uncertainty with minimal burden on industry and maximize consistency with those of the Federal Trade Commission," the release states.
The rule requires "telemarketers to obtain prior express written consent" - from intended call recipients - including "by electronic means such as a website form, before placing a robocall to a consumer and eliminating the 'established business relationship' exemption to the requirement that telemarketing robocalls to residential landline phones occur only with prior express consent from the consumer."
It requires telemarketers to provide an automated, interactive "opt-out" mechanism during each robocall so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling and "strictly limiting the number of abandoned or 'dead air' calls telemarketers can make within each calling campaign. The rules also ensure that informational calls, such as those related to school closings and flight changes, continue to be available to consumers who wish to receive them," the release states.
One blogger on this issue - Jeff in Maryland - writes: "We thought about giving up our landline but read about scams and telemarketer tactics that bill collectors and thieves use to harass you or steal your ID, so we kept our landline even though the entire family has cellphones and anyone we care about would use our cell numbers to contact us.
"Family members give the landline number to any type of sales person or to fill out forms where a telephone number is required. When asked by someone for a cell number we decline, and so far no telemarketer or bill collector has been able to find our cellphone numbers. We dropped the long distance carrier on the home landline as well as every other feature except caller-ID. The price is now $8 a month. Told everyone on the planet who needs to find us to use our cells, placed the home phone in one room so as not to be bothered by it if it rings and of course we turned the ringer off."
Original Print Headline: Rules help protect you from Robocalls
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