EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A recent study polling 1,619 adults living across the United States shows that Pennsylvanians received 4.4 spam calls a day, the most in the US.

We’ve all answered the phone to hear a robot asking about our car warranty or student loans; well, a recent study from the FCC showed that Americans had to deal with almost 4 billion robocalls per month in 2020. The FCC is aware of the stress and danger this brings to consumers, so they have started to take action.

The FCC has levied multiple multimillion-dollar fines against companies for illegal caller ID spoofing. The biggest fines they’ve levied so far are a $225 million fine against Texas-based health insurance telemarketers and a $120 million fine for an illegal “neighbor” spoofing scam by a Florida-based-time-share marketing operation.

The FCC has also demanded voice service providers immediately cease and desist the facilitation of illegal robocall campaigns on their networks. If these companies do not comply with the FCC’s demands, the FCC will block traffic from their companies altogether.

The FCC has also started developing multiple programs to protect Americans from these calls. The “Caller ID Authentication (STIR/SHAKEN)” system is critical in their goal to protect consumers. This system demands that voice service providers use a common code that an FCC filter can read. This filter will block any calls that match the “STIR/SHAKEN” coding, protecting the consumer.

The FCC has launched a “Robocall Response Team” that brings FCC staff members from six bureaus together with the goal of implementing anti-robocall efforts. The task force will enforce the law against providers of illegal robocalls, develop new policies to authenticate calls, trace back illegal robocalls, and educate providers about what they can do to help.

For now, here are some tips from the FCC to protect yourself from these calls:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
  • If the caller claims to be from a legitimate company or organization, hang up and call them back using a valid number found on their website or on your latest bill if you do business with them.
  • If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls or asks you to say “yes” in response to a question, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target live respondents, or to use your “yes” to apply unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Be Aware: Caller ID showing a “local” number no longer means it is necessarily a local caller.
  • If you answer and the caller asks for payment using a gift card, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate organizations like law enforcement will not ask for payment with a gift card.
  • If you receive a scam call, file a complaint with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center by selecting the “phone” option and selecting “unwanted calls.” The data we collect helps us track trends and supports our enforcement investigations.
  • If you have lost money because of a scam call, contact your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • Ask your phone company if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage them to offer one. You can also visit the FCC’s website for more information about illegal robocalls and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls.
  • Consider registering your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry. Lawful telemarketers use this list to avoid calling consumers on the list.