• November 29, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

What Will It Take to Stop the Illegal Scam Calls?

Back in the July issue of CRM, I wrote in my Front Office column that I had my doubts that the STIR/SHAKEN framework that took effect in the United States in June would do anything to curb the number of spam/scam calls. Now, nearly six months later, it would seem that I was correct.

STIR/SHAKEN—which is short for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN), was supposed to stop unwanted robocalls and illegal call spoofing by enabling the authentication and verification of caller identities. It has done nopne of that. I am still receiving the same number of spam/scam calls from the same bad actors who have been at it for years. They are still ILLEGALLY spoofing numbers, and they are still robodialing.

To this day, I continue to get the daily barrage of calls (anywhere from five to 10 a day) from the nonexistent "Card Services," which is really just a phishing scam to get credit card information by promising to lower interest rates and eliminate debt. I also get an endless stream of scam calls from fraudsters claiming to provide auto extended warranties, Medicare services reviews, and free solar panels; others claim that my Amazon account is being locked because of a suspected fraudulent iPhone purchase in Dayton, Ohio, that my non-existent Coinbase account is being frozen for the same reason, and that the Norton antivirus and Lifelock subscription that I don't have is being automatically renewed for $349. And the newest one comes from another non-existent company called "Medical Services" claiming that my doctor recommended me for a free medical alert pendant. And these are just the more common ones. Most of these fraudsters illegally spoof other phone numbers to fool caller ID systems into thinking that they are legitimate, and they have clearly found a way around STIR/SHAKEN.

Both my cell and home numbers are listed on the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call List, and I report each and every violation on the FTC's website, but so far the agency has been either unable or unwilling to do anything to hold the scammers accountable. The "Card Services" scam has been going on now for three years, and the others referenced above have been active for many months, if not years, as well.

I have filed hundreds of complaints with the FTC against these companies and even wrote a letter to the head of the FTC directly. In the response that I got back from the agency's Consumer Response Center, it acknowledges its mission: "The FTC has been directed by Congress to act in the intrerest of all consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, or unfair business practices in the marketplace." It also assured me that the information I provided "may provide the initial evidence to begin an investigation."

Easier said than done, obviously.

I am not against the STIR/SHAKEN mandate; I lay blame squarely at the feet of the FTC, FCC, and other government agencies that are not doing enough to enforce the laws and standards in place. Until our government agencies acknowledge the damage being done and the severity of the crimes being committed and go after the perpetrators as the criminal enterprises that they are, the scam calls will continue.

Today's scam call tally is 12: Five from "Card Services," three claiming to be from Norton about my subscription, three wanting to review the Medicare benefits that I am not receiving, and one claiming to be from Amazon. And the day's not over yet.

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