A September 28 deadline aims to better protect consumers from robocall scams that steal more than $ 10 billion a year. However, new data shows that only a fraction of telephone operators are ready for Tuesday’s deadline.

According to the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, of the 3,063 telecommunications providers in the United States, only 17% reported having fully implemented technology that meets industry standards. Twenty-seven percent said they have partially implemented the technology and 56% said they use their own methods to handle robocalls.

A deadline is looming for telephony providers to implement the technology. Starting September 28, they’re required to block calls from companies that haven’t at least reported their status to the FCC.

“By disobeying applicable laws, voice service providers exploit vulnerable consumers and subject them to unwanted calls and potential scams from automated callers,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey , in a press release. “I would like to thank MASSPIRG for producing a solid and detailed report on the number of companies that have or have not complied with federal anti-robocall laws. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them to work to reduce the number of automated calls received by consumers. “

Only a third of the country’s largest mobile and home providers have installed caller ID verification to limit illegal robocalls, MASSPIRG said. Most major suppliers were required to do this by June.

Of the 20 largest companies, 13 told the PIRG Education Fund that they block some known fraudulent calls by default, which they have been authorized to do by the FCC since 2019.

Eight said they provide onscreen warnings that a call may be a scam and allow customers to block calls without a caller ID.

Only four, according to MASSPIRG, said they regularly display check marks on the screen next to the caller’s name or other checks.

Small vendors have until June 2023, but MASSPIRG has said it should be moved to next year.

“How long are we going to tolerate people’s lives being destroyed when they fall under the spell of an impostor who appears to be from their bank or the IRS?” This is inexcusable, it must stop, and the compliance of the telephone companies will make a big difference, ”said Deirdre Cummings, director of the consumer program for the MASSPIRG Education Fund.. “The telephone companies have known about this deadline for five years. The FCC asked companies to do this three years ago, and Congress passed a law making it mandatory almost two years ago. “

Yet nationwide fraudulent calls fell 29% from June to August, according to YouMail, one of the leading robocall screening companies.

This is after calls increased in 2019.

In Massachusetts, residents received an average of 75 robocalls per person, a 29% jump from 2018. In December, 48.7 million robocalls were made only to Massachusetts residents, averaging 1.6 million calls per day and 5.9 calls per person.

Illegal robocalls lead to $ 10 billion a year in fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The calls cost consumers an additional $ 3 billion a year in wasted time, according to the FCC.

And not all robocalls are illegal, MASSPIRG said. There are four types of automated calls: scams, telemarketing, alerts, and payment reminders. All scam calls are illegal and many telemarketing calls are illegal, MASSPIRG said.

In general, MASSPIRG has stated that calls are illegal if:

  • This is a telemarketing call with a recorded message, unless the caller has written permission from you to allow the company to call you.
  • It is a call to cheat or swindle you.
  • This is a call from a legitimate company you have not done business with that calls you even though you have registered your number on the Federal Do Not Call Register.

To avoid robocalls, consumers can register their phone number with the national do not call registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its website. To report robocall scams and unwanted calls, consumers can access the FTC website here.

Massachusetts consumers can also file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General here.

Associated content:

  • Americans received more than 58 billion automated calls last year, up 29% in Massachusetts
  • Election 2020: ‘Suspicious robocall’ tells Massachusetts residents to stay home for fear of violence and looting due to election

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