'It can be dangerous': Scammers up their robocalls game

'It can be dangerous': Scammers up their robocalls game
Published: Aug. 20, 2018 at 2:27 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2018 at 11:24 AM EDT
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(WWBT) - Are you tired of getting robocalls every single day?

Robo callers targeted 1.2 million people with the 8-0-4 area code in July, according to data from a site online that tracks the annoying calls.

Now scammers have upped their game, masking their number by borrowing yours.

The calls can come from your area code - even appearing from your neighborhood.

The federal government call it "neighbor spoofing."

And it's driving people crazy.

The owner of a reality company recently had his number "spoofed" - it was used illegally in a student loan scam.

He fielded tons of calls from upset people. It disrupted his business.

"Our business is based on trust and when, anytime deception comes into play, that hurts my reputation. So yeah, it angers me," said Chuck Fugate. He filed complaints with the feds.

"It's challenging. The phone network is very complex," said FCC spokesperson Will Wiquist.


The FCC says technology's made neighbor spoofing easy, leading to thousands of complaints a year.

Recently the agency set a record breaking fine of $120 million to a Miami company selling travel packages and time shares. It made 100 million spoofed robocalls in just three months.

According to Youmail's Robocall Index, there were 22.7 million robocalls placed to Richmonders in June, equaling roughly 19 calls per person affected. YouMail is a free robocall blocking app.

"A lot of the spoofed calls are used to try to defraud consumers. So it's not just annoying, it can be dangerous," Wiquist said.

Recently the FCC changed its policy, allowing phone companies to block calls before they get to you.

The agency, however, says the technology to keep up with scammers is still a few year away.

Fugate wants those changes on speed dial. "These are simple fixes we just need to fix it."

Here's what you can do on your own:

First try out a free or paid spam blocking app. There are a ton of them in your apps stores.

Also, try blocking the numbers yourself through your phone.

Go to recent calls and pick the SPAM number that you want to block. There's an option to block. Select it.

It won't stop the calls entirely, but if you are not answering them and consistently blocking the spoofed numbers it should reduce the number of calls you get over time.

And perhaps the best piece of advice - don't answer any call from a number you don't know.

If they really want to reach you, they'll leave a message and you can call back.

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