Federal Guidelines Take Aim at Telephone Scams

It’s already been a busy and productive summer in the ongoing battle against robocalling and telephone scams. On May 23, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (“TRACED”) Act by a 97-1 vote. The legislation grants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stepped-up enforcement power to levy heavy penalties, including significant fines, against violators.

In addition, on June 6 the FCC voted unanimously to grant telecommunications companies the authority to proactively identify and block robocallers. The agency will hold a summit with carriers in July to identify a framework for implementing these new guidelines, and has committed to pursuing “aggressive enforcement action” against robocallers.

This federal intervention should provide welcome relief to consumers, coming as it does amidst estimates that nuisance calls will grow from 29 percent of all phone calls in 2018 to as much as 45 percent of all calls this year. And new types of scams continue to pop-up with alarming regularity.

Among the new tricks: “neighbor spoofing,” in which fraudsters alter their phone number to look like a legitimate call from nearby, and the “one ring” scam, which involves robocallers hanging up after one ring, hoping to trick the victim into calling back. Variations of this scam rely on phony voice-mail messages urging you to call a number with an unfamiliar area code to schedule a delivery, resolve a bogus legal issue, or notify you about a sick relative.

While the latest government action offers powerful remedies to deter bad actors, there are steps you can also take to protect yourself. Here are a few simple tips to help thwart the scammers:

  • Familiarize yourself with call blocking options for your cellphone.
  • Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • List your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. While this will not prevent unscrupulous callers from contacting you, it can help to limit the number you receive.
  • If your number is on the registry and you receive unwanted calls, report them. This can help expose and catch callers who are engaging in fraud.

34 Thoughts on "Federal Guidelines Take Aim at Telephone Scams"

  1. Najee says

    I want to see what you’ll can do to help stop this from happening.

    • Hi Najee, thanks for your post! We understand your concern with the unwanted calls and the robo calls that are taking place. Because we are a reseller though, we do not own the networks that we service and are not able to make changes to the network to block these calls. If you are receiving them currently, you can block them depending on your device or even download a call blocking application to help filter those calls for you. You can also report the number to the FCC on their website here.

  2. Ronald Spero says

    That’s fine, but when the networks add this capability, will CC customers get that?

    • Hi Ronald, that’s a great question! Thanks for the post! While we are partnered with the networks to share those towers, we do not have access to all of the features they offer. If this ends up being something that Consumer Cellular offers for our customers, we will definitely let everyone know as soon as possible.

  3. Gordon Ferrell says

    I recieve in upwards to 20 robo calls a day at times! Something has to be done! Why is CC not being PRO-active and talking with the “networks” to offer a auto blocking service?

    • Hi Gordon, thanks for your post! We understand your concern with robo calls. Because we are a reseller, we do not own the networks that we use for service and are not able to make changes to the network to block robo calls. If you are receiving robo calls and use a smartphone, then you can block the incoming numbers depending on your device, or download a call blocking app if available for your phone. You can also report the number to the FCC on their website. We appreciate your feedback and hope you have a great day.

  4. Charles Cooper says

    I’m afraid “not my job” line doesn’t cut it. consumer cellular Has many options available. 1st they could demand such software be available from the network provider. Another option which other companies provide is providing the software to block robo calls. For example direc TV provides Norton anti virus software to their customers for free. Consumer cellular could do the same to prevent robocalls.

    • Hi Charles, thank you for your post. We appreciate you taking the time to post your feedback and suggestions regarding this issue. I have passed this along to my team to be reviewed further for moving forward. Thank you!

  5. Julie Kline says

    I NEVER got as many robo calls on my phone with AT&T as I do since I switched to CC…the calls start early in the am until late at night. I have selected “unwanted calls” turned on & it still rings….I’m thinking I made a serious mistake by switching to save money….very frustrated

    • Hi Julie, I completely understand how frustrating those calls are and we thank you for posting. Because we are a reseller, we do not own the networks that we use for service and are not able to make changes to the network to block robo calls. If you are receiving robo calls, then you can block the incoming numbers depending on your device, or download a call blocking app if available for your phone. You can also report the number to the FCC on their website to get it on their radar. We appreciate your feedback and hope you have a great day.

      • Jan says

        Can we download something into our flip phone? I received a call at 6:42 a.m. this morning. Like do you have a spoof app that disregards calls beginning with the first 6 digits of your number. I cannot just turn my phone off since I have an ailing mother.

  6. Wanda Brown says

    Received a phone call asking if I could USE, not HAVE, but USE your phone number.

    • Thanks for reaching out regarding this, Wanda. In this case, I would definitely block that number from calling your phone and if it is a number that doesn’t look familiar, we would recommend not answering the line so that they don’t mark it as an active number.

  7. Aramis de Vannes says

    Why doesn’t CC have the means to report spam text messages? Why hasn’t CC fixed the name associated with my phone number? I keep getting unsolicited spam texts that are financial scams with no means to report them. My number has been on the Do Not Call registry for years and it’s never made a difference nor has reporting the spammers to the FCC site. Why does CC just defer any and all responsibility for the illegal activities taking place on their network? At least other carriers provide a means of resolution and reporting scams and spam texts. Maybe time to switch to a provider that actually does something about this issue rather than just defer the user to a useless federal government site.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for taking the time to post, Aramis. We do have a process in place to report spam text messages. This would require forwarding the spam text to 7726. If you need assistance with that, we’re happy to help if you reach out to our customer service team. If you are receiving spam calls, then there are some options available depending on the phone that you’re using, and we’re happy to help review the caller ID on your phone. You can reach our customer service team over the phone at 888-345-5509 or by starting a live chat here.

    • Mindie Low says

      I have to say, while I love my consumer cellular service and cost, I am disgusted by the number of spam texts I get. Like the comment above, I have done everything within my power to stop these texts.

      I live with an AT&T subscriber. He does not get spam texts 4 and 5 times a day. I never received this many spam texts before. I’m having to consider the financial value versus the constant irritation of these texts.

      • Hi Mindie, that’s definitely frustrating. When spam messages are being received, the options available include blocking the number, forwarding it to 7726 so it is reported as spam, or using a call blocking application from the App Store that can also block unwanted or unknown messages. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, then the next option would be to change the phone number.

  8. Marilyn R Myers says

    In have been scaled by someone.I keep getting call. I would to get new number. Maybe a new phone

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Marilyn, if you would like to change your number, our customer service team would be happy to help with that if you give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.

  9. Howard Cunningham says

    With the June 30, 2021, implementation deadline approaching for carriers to support STIR/SHAKEN, can you summarize what changes (hopefully good) that CC customers on AT&T and T-Mobile networks will see? All of my numbers are on the do not call list, I screen all calls and I have registered a few complaints with the FCC but nothing changes – I still get 4-8 calls per day from robo callers all using spoofed numbers to get around call blocking. Any relief in site?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for the question, Howard. STIR/SHAKEN is not something that is being implemented by Consumer Cellular or available for our customers at this time. If it is something that becomes available for our customers in the future, we’ll be sure to let our customers know as we understand how important blocking unwanted calls is.

  10. Debra says

    So what is the best way to leave cc and move to another service?
    We purchased your phone for my mother who is 78. She lives alone and is scared by the scam texts and calls she is receiving now but never received with her old cell service.

    • Hi Debra, I’m sorry to hear that your mom is considering leaving our service. We can go over options to help with those or go over any concerns she may have about these if she’d like to give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

  11. Joan Workman says

    I suspect that STIR/SHAKEN is not federally mandatory for MVNOs like Consumer Cellular. I contacted Customer Service and was told by the rep that she had never heard of STIR/SHAKEN.

  12. Dave says

    So why isn’t STIR/SHAKEN not being implemented by Consumer Cellular? I thought it was being required by the FCC. Simply saying it’s not implemented is not helpful at all.

    • Hi Dave, thanks for your post. Because we’re a reseller, we don’t have any control over what they implement for us for things such as SHAKEN/STIR. If this changes at any point though, we’ll let our customers know.

  13. Charles Cooper says

    Ok… my original spam complaint was posted over two years ago and the CC responses are still the same. From what I can tell, there’s been no movement on dealing with the spammers. Why do I have to pay for a third party app to stop illegal calls through your service. My internet isp provides anti virus software. Why doesn’t CC follow suit since “you’re a reseller” and can’t do anything.

    This spam stuff is getting very old. BTW… T-mobile provides a very robust app to stop the spammers for their customers.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for taking the time to post, Charles. We understand that spam calls can be very frustrating. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to block calls on our end and don’t have the option to cover the cost of call blocking apps but we appreciate the feedback and will pass it along.

  14. Mary Ellen says

    I receive at least two texts each day of a sexual nature. The language is disgusting. I don’t know why my number has been targeted. What can I do to stop this? I shouldn’t have to be subjected to this every day.

  15. Russ says

    When will CC have something like T-Mobile’s “Scam Blocker”?

    • Hi Russ, thanks for your question. At this time, we have not heard of any near-future plans for this but if that changes at any time we will definitely let our customers know. I am also happy to pass your suggestion along internally for you as well.

  16. Eric B says

    I understand that you’re a reseller, and that makes implementation of features such as STIR/SHAKEN and screening apps more difficult, you need to make this a top priority. I love your service, but have stopped recommending you to others because of the lack of basic mechanisms such as these.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for taking the time to post, Eric. STIR/SHAKEN is already in effect with the carriers we use for our service. You can find more information on how it works in our newsletter here.