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SCDCA Tracks Increase in Robocalls; Supports FCC Rule Expediting Blocking of Illegal Robocalls

Tue, 07/20/2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of their latest proposed rule targeting unlawful robocalls. If approved, the rule would shorten the time small service providers have to implement tools to prevent spoofing and block robocalls.

Large telephone providers had until Jun 30, 2021 to implement robocall technology to block illegal robocalls before they reach the consumer. The request to block the call can either be made by the subscriber of a number to combat spoofing or by the provider after determining the telephone number is invalid, unallocated or unassigned. “Spoofing” occurs when a scammer alters the caller ID to trick the consumer into thinking the call is from a particular person, organization or place. Small service providers, however, were given an extension until June 30, 2023 to implement the network-level blocking of illegal robocalls.  The proposed rule would require compliance by June 30, 2022.

“We are hopeful the rollout of robocall blocking tools by large telephone carriers last month will result in a reduction of scam calls and related losses for South Carolina consumers,” said SCDCA Administrator/Consumer Advocate Carri Grube Lybarker.  “Rolling back the small provider deadline will help prevent scammers from merely switching carriers to continue to perpetuate illegal calls.”

SCDCA saw a marked decline in robocall reports in 2020 just receiving 607, approximately 50% less than in 2019.  The amount lost to scammers, however, neared $570,000, over $135,000 more than what was reported in 2019 ($432,670).   From January 1- June 15, 2021, SCDCA received 421 unlawful robocall reports with actual losses of $412,000.  

While the new rules will help to deter scammers, it will not totally get rid of them. Here are a few tips to help consumers avoid becoming victim to a robocall scheme:

  • Hang up the phone. Don't press one to speak to a live operator. And don't press any other number to get off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • No one will contact you asking for private information. Scammers often pose as government agencies to gain your trust. Lookout for calls and messages pretending to be from well-known organizations like the IRS. Fraudsters may try to get you to verify information like your bank account number, Social Security number or credit card information. Never give private information to someone who contacts you out-of-the-blue. Instead, directly contact that business/agency.
  • No legitimate business/agency will ask for unusual forms of payment. Unusual forms of payment include gift card, cryptocurrency or wire transfer. Scammers like these forms of payment because they are difficult to trace and you’ll likely never see that money again. No matter why the person says they need it, this a big red flag.
  • Report the call to DCA. Scam reports aid in keeping SCDCA informed on the latest schemes, helping us warn and educate South Carolina consumers. To report a scam call 844-835-5322 or visit www.consumer.sc.gov , then click Report a Scam.

Download Ditch the Pitch, SCDCA’s guide to guarding against scams for more ways to keep yourself safe.   Printed copies are also available by calling SCDCA or visiting our website.

About SCDCA

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.