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We’ve all gotten those annoying calls that show up as “No Caller ID” or random numbers, which leave automated voicemails sometimes indicating (deceitfully) that your bank account or Social Security number has been compromised.
It’s a minor annoyance for those who don’t bother to pick up the phone. But for the people who answer those calls and fall victim to the scams, it’s a much bigger deal. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is making moves to stop those scam robocalls once and for all.
The goal of the FTC, according to its website, is “protecting consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” So, it’s no wonder that it seeks to stop these robocall scams.
The FTC’s plan to crack down on these scams has a name: Operation Call it Quits. Two FTC commissioners, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, a Democrat, and Noah Phillips, a Republican, are spearheading the mission. The fact that these calls are a problem is something that everyone can agree on, regardless of political party affiliation.
“Robocalls are not just an annoyance that every single American feels several times a day,” Phillips told CBS News. “They can be for people who do pick up the phone and sometimes fall victim to those kinds of scams.”
According to a study conducted last year by YouMail, nearly 48 billion fake phone calls were made in the U.S. in 2018, up from 30.5 billion robocalls in 2017. At the time, the study predicted an increase to between 60 billion and 75 billion robocalls in 2019.
It’s no doubt that Operation Call It Quits, in which law enforcement and the FTC will file charges against companies and individuals responsible for illegal robocalls, is an ambitious effort. Both Phillips and Slaughter recognize this.
“It often feels like whack-a-mole for us,” Slaughter told CBS News, referencing the arcade game. “But when we whack a mole, we are stopping a substantial number of cases of a number of unwanted calls, and that’s important to me.”
This effort from the FTC is a good start, though Slaughter and Phillips were clear that they’ll need the cooperation of many other people to really make progress with this issue.
“Today announcing Operation Call it Quits is part of the solution to the problem, it is not the whole of the solution,” Phillips told CBS News. “It’s going to take engagement from industry. It’s going to take technological development, it’s going to take engagement from consumers, which we at the FTC also try to do, and the hope is through all of these combined efforts we can help push back.”
Here’s hoping for fewer rings from robocalls!