You’ve probably answered a call at least once with a phone number that looked local–probably very close to your own–only to be greeted with a recorded message for any number of unwanted products or services. You’ve answered the next-gen version of telephone scams: Neighbor Spoofing Robocalls.
Your Neighbor Is Not Calling
Unlike most phone-based scams, these robocalls “spoof” a telephone number that already belongs to someone else. The calls usually have the first six numbers of your phone number, the area code and local exchange.
The idea is that you’ll think it’s a neighbor or local business calling (like your bank or doctor’s office) and pick up the phone. If you do, you’re giving scammers the opportunity to take advantage of you. Unfortunately, once you figure out that it isn’t, you’ve already alerted the individuals who originated the call that your number is active. You may get an increase in these kinds of calls.
What Does the FTC Say?
In response to the huge amount of complaints from consumers, the Federal Trade Commission created the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. § 227.) In it, companies are not to use robocalling unless there is already “a relationship between a person or entity and a business subscriber.”
In other words, if you gave a company, such as a debt collector, your permission, they can continue to call you. However, the TCPA also prohibits robocalls that are to:
- Cell phones
- Residential phone lines
- Phone numbers already registered to the Do Not Call Registry.
If you’ve made an inquiry in the past three months, or done business with a vendor in the last 18 months, you have “an established business relationship.” But you can revoke their permission if you’ve previously given it to them.
Unfortunately, many neighbor-spoofing robocalls originate from outside of the US, beyond the reach of US law.
Your Best Option: Don’t Answer It
Answering any call you suspect to be a robocall will trigger more. Pressing a button to “opt out” or even answering a prerecorded voice can keep the calls coming. If the call is legitimate, such as one that came from the doctor’s office, they generally leave a message. If you’re not sure, hang up and call the number you normally use and ask.
There are a number of apps available in both iOS and Android to alert you when a call is a scam. One of the most popular is Nomorobo, with programs available for landlines as well as smartphones.
If you’re being inundated with robocalls in violation of the TCPA, there are a few things you can do:
- Save all phone records and highlight incoming calls from debt collectors and telemarketers.
- Create a written record of the calls. Include the date and time of the call, the caller’s identity, and notes from conversations you had with the caller.
- Save any and all voicemails.
- If you have already revoked your consent to receive their calls, keep a copy of the letter.
Debt Collector Making Robocalls?
Robocalling is just one more way a debt collector can try and harass you. If you believe you have encountered an FDCPA violation, contact The Law Offices of Jibrael S. Hindi today. We have litigated hundreds of cases against those who violate the law and can help you, too. Contact our firm today at 1-844-JIBRAEL for a free case evaluation. There are no attorney fees until you get paid.