A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Bugged by robocalls? If you can’t block them, then report them; there’s something you can do


By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

You’ve tried ignoring, blocking, teasing and hanging up on these annoying robocalls. Nothing seems to work. Is anyone doing anything about them? The short answer — yes.

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The Federal Trade Commission is taking aggressive action in concert with law enforcement, the court system, wireless carriers, and Congress to tackle this complicated issue. New programs, such as Operation Call it Quits, educate the public on avoiding the calls and target illegal operations that send them. As a result, 25 federal, state and local agencies filed 87 lawsuits against groups responsible for robocalls. 

Cell phone companies are stepping up to automatically block robocalls that don’t have a digital certification called SHAKEN/STIR. This initiative was announced just a few months ago by the FCC. This all sounds like good progress—but while these measures take effect, you may still be receiving spoofed calls from the IRS, Social Security, or some unknown car warranty company or debt collector. When that happens, there’s something you can do to fight back. Whether you’re a consumer or represent a business, you can make an impact by reporting it to donotcall.gov/

According to robocallindex.com, an average of 4.7 billion calls were placed last month to 150.8 million people per day. In Cincinnati during July, 23.1 million calls were reported, with the average person receiving about 15.6 calls per day. That’s like getting swarmed by mosquitos at a picnic and not having bug repellent.
 

Imagine for just a moment that every person who receives these calls took a quick moment to report it to https://donotcall.gov/. The FTC and other law enforcement agencies would have a much easier time locating scammers, as well as businesses who aren’t following the Do Not Call law. To refer again to our mosquito metaphor, robocall victims would be directing the bug repellent to the swarm.

The donotcall.gov website provides an overview of the calls people are reporting to the FTC across the U.S. and in your community. In the Greater Cincinnati area, 3,151 people reported a robocall incident. The report breaks down the top categories reported, from imposter scams to debt collection. It’s interactive, so users can click on different states and counties and learn the popular robocalls happening there.

The next time you get bit by a robocall, report it. If enough people do, the swarm will diminish to an occasional swat—perhaps one day we’ll receive phone calls from people we want to hear from! In the meantime, be the repellent. 

Sandra Guile is the Public Relations Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.


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