CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – We all get them — those annoying, unwanted robocalls, text messages, and sometimes videos. We take a look at what you can do to stop the ring before they have a chance to connect.
71-year-old Charles Steinert says he has had enough of continuous unwanted phone calls.
“You block the number, and they just use another number. It needs to stop. My favorite one is when I got a call from somebody reporting to be from the IRS about back taxes or they will put me in jail. That number I called back, I talked to the man for a long time and said I don’t want any trouble with the IRS,” he said.
“After he gave me numbers I owed – that were roughly equal to the national debt – I said may I ask you a question? You at the collection desk, so you have my amount and my name, you have anything about me? He said it says you’re retired. I said that’s right. I said you know what I retired as? He said no, I said I was an auditor with the IRS, let’s meet and work this out. He said there must be some mistake, hung up the phone, and that stopped it for about ninety days, and it started again,” says Steinert.
Steinert said he receives text messages as well. “Feminine cancer disease addressed to Harold. They’re absurd.”
He says all of his mobile devices and landline phone are on the National Do Not Call list.
“You block the number, and they just use another number, it needs to stop. These people have no business calling us. First of all, they’re up to no good. They’re trying to fleece people out of money, elderly people out of money, and it’s an insult to my intelligence. Well somebody said just block it. Well, it gets shifted to another number, so yes I am frustrated. I would like to see the government enforce the policies, and shut these people down,” he said.
Mr. Steinert says he has reported unwanted calls.
James Evans is the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Program Coordinator. He says, “It’s absolutely a huge problem. It’s the number one complaint source to the FTC, illegal calls and robocalls.” Evans says, for the fiscal year 2020, the FTC has received about four-million complaints about unwanted calls. Of that number, according to the FTC, nearly half a million calls came from imposters. In South Carolina, there are more than 50-thousand complaints.”
Evans says there are a number of state and federal laws and regulations to prevent the harassment.
He says, “The one that the FTC enforces, Telemarketing Sales Rule. There is also a Telemarketing Protection Act that’s enforced by the Federal Communications Commission. Importantly we ask people to report complaints of unwanted calls to us so that we can investigate and determine where calls are coming from and bring a law enforcement action, which we do all the time.”
People can report unwanted calls to us at our new report intake form, reportfraud.ftc.gov. You can also report unwanted text messages and unwanted videos sent to your phones. It’s also important for us to target our law enforcement and I encourage people to report that to us as well.”
Evans says robo and illegal calls tend to be most prevalent during the summer months. “Our complaints typically are at their lowest points in November and December, so hopefully we have that to look forward to in this upcoming season. Then they steadily increase all year long, peaking in the late summer.”
Scammers can change the numbers they call from so they can continue to call you, but there are several call blocking options you can explore on your home or cell phones to help you silence some of the calls: Use the built-in blocking feature on your cell phone; Contact your service provider; Use a call blocking device; Download call blocking app.
If you’re still getting unwanted calls and your number is on the DNC list, the calls are most likely from scammers. Evans says, “Most robocalls are illegal. It’s important to know if someone robocalls you, and you did not give them explicit permission to robocall you, then they are already breaking the law, and it’s not a good idea to trust anything they say.”
Mr. Steinert says, “It’s insulting. It’s very denigrating that they think they can fleece people. Fortunately, I haven’t fallen victim to that, but others have, and they’re taking advantage of a vulnerable group of people.”
According to the FTC, even if your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, some organizations may still call you, such as charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors, also debt collectors.
For more information on what you can do to stop unwanted calls, click here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-stop-unwanted-calls