If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. Americans have seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information.
To date, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against more than 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.
The FTC also is leading several initiatives to develop technology-based solutions. Those initiatives include a series of robocall contests that challenge tech gurus to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers. The FTC also is encouraging industry efforts to combat caller ID spoofing. Here’s the FTC’s game plan to combat robocalls:
- continue aggressive law enforcement
- build better tools for investigating robocalls
- coordinate with law enforcement, industry, and other stakeholders
- stimulate and pursue technological solutions.
For More Information, click here.
- Ask students how they or their families respond to robocalls. Has the number of robocalls increased in recent months? If so, what might be the reasons?
- Ask students to make a list of actions to take in combating robocalls. Share the list with other students.
- Should you consider reducing unwanted sales calls by submitting your phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry?
- Why doesn’t the National Do Not Call Registry stop robocalls?
- Are robocalls legal? What kinds of robocalls are allowed without your permission?
- How can you manage to get fewer robocalls?
Scammers are using illegal robocalls to profit from Coronavirus-related fears. Illegal robocalls are universally hated, so why do scammers still use them? Because scammers need only a few people to take the bait for them to make money. Scammers might do that by getting your bank account number, tricking you into handing over gift card PIN codes, or stealing valuable personal information such as your Social Security number.
Crises such as COVID-19, bring out the best in people, and the worst in scammers who pretend to be from the Social Security Administration, offering fake Coronavirus tests to Medicare recipients, and scaring small businesses into buying bogus online listing services.
To hear examples of illegal robocalls exploiting concerns about the Coronavirus, and to stay up to date on the latest Federal Trade Commission (FTC) information, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus.
Now that you know what Coronavirus robocall scams are like, make sure you share this information with your friends and family members. And, if you get such scam calls,don’t believe them. Instead:
- Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
- Consider using a call blocking app or device. You also can ask your phone provider if it has call-blocking tools. To learn more, go to ftc.gov/calls.
- Report the call. Report robocalls at ftc.gov/complaint. The more the FTC hear from you, the more they can help fight scams.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they or their family members have received such calls. If so, how did they respond?
- How many students or family members have considered using a call blocking app or have contacted their phone provider to block such calls? Summarize their findings.
- Why is it not advisable to ask the caller to remove your name from their call list?
- How does reporting your robocalls help the FTC combat scammers?
Many people have had very sensitive personal information exposed in the Equifax breach — Social Security numbers, account numbers, even drivers’ license numbers. Equifax is offering free credit freezes until November 21, 2017.
If you’re thinking of placing a freeze, consider the following:
- A freeze means that no one (including you) can access your credit file until you unfreeze it, using a PIN or passphrase. That makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
- To be effective, you must place a freeze with all three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
- A freeze can cost you money every time you freeze and unfreeze your file- at a cost of $5 to $10 per agency each time, depending on your state’s law.
Fraud alerts are free. With a fraud alert, creditors must try to verify your identity before extending new credit. The alert lasts for 90 days, You can renew it but you will need to remind yourself or it will expire automatically. Identity theft victims, however, are entitled to an extended fraud alert which lasts seven years. To place an alert, contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies, either by phone or online.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students if they are willing to pay about $5 to $10 each time they freeze or unfreeze their accounts with each credit agency.
- Let students debate the issue: “A fraud alert is better than a credit freeze.”
- What are the differences between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
- Should you consider a fraud alert or credit freeze if you become a victim of an identity theft? Why or why not?
You first heard the reports in August 2014: reports that Russian hackers have stolen more than a billion unique username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses, grabbed from thousands of websites.
How do you know if your information was part of this hack? You really don’t, but don’t take any chances. Change the passwords you use for sensitive sites like your bank and email account–really any site that has important financial or health information. Make sure each password is different so someone who knows one of your passwords won’t suddenly have access to all your important accounts.
Can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you again? Unfortunately, you can’t. But take all precautionary steps and lessen the odds scammers will get a hold of your information.
For additional information, go to
You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to discuss
- Ask students if anyone they know has had sensitive information hacked.
- Have students present proposals on how to protect themselves from hackers.
- Is creating new passwords enough to keep your information safe?
- Is there anything else you can do to protect your sensitive information?