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Local consumers, Ohio attorney general call for greater spoof call scrutiny

Local consumers, Ohio's Attorney General call for greater spoof call scrutiny
Posted at 10:05 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 13:01:36-05

CLEVELAND — Anthony Armstrong of Cleveland said he received a cellphone call from a caller ID he thought could be from Amazon, and a caller who told him there was a problem with his bank account in connection with a $1,500 Amazon purchase, but he quickly realized it was just a con artist on the other end of the phone.

Armstrong said he knew something wasn't right when the caller asked him to purchase $2,000 in gift cards to rectify his a account.

Local consumers, Ohio's Attorney General call for greater spoof call scrutiny
Anthony Armstrong of Cleveland thought he was receiving an Amazon call about his bank account

“And I was like wait a minute, they got the wrong person," Armstrong said. “First of all, I don’t really order anything, or do anything with Amazon. They asked me to go to this store, go to that store, get this many gift cars and this kind, and this kind. When they said bank account, this much money, I’m like, 'wait a minute, hold it.'”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told News 5 his office received 702 complaints from Ohio consumers about spoof and robocalls in just the first 16 days of November.

Yost said in response to this issue, he and all attorneys general across the county issued a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to act on its proposal keep legitimate company numbers from being sold, leased or rented to illegal robocallers.

Yost and his fellow attorneys general showed their support the FCC’s proposals to implement a more thorough application, review and monitoring process for phone companies requesting direct access to the numbers, and to require the companies to verify customer identities.

Local consumers, Ohio's Attorney General call for greater spoof call scrutiny
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is in support of an FCC proposal to stiffen new phone number application standards to combat spoof phone calls

Yost said that unfortunately robocallers are now seeking to circumvent the new STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication technology implemented earlier this year, that combats spoofing by ensuring that phone calls originate from verified numbers. Yost said robocallers are providing false identifying information to companies with access to the legitimate numbers, making consumer caller ID even more unreliable.

"We want the FCC to expedite that phase-in as well as stiffen up the protocol," Yost said. “We’re pushing back, looking for the federal government and the telecoms to help us make sure that no one is using a fake ID at the door. It doesn’t help Verizon or AT&T to have this kind of stuff going through their services, their devices, it’s bad for business. Don't answer the call, let them leave a message to get back to you, crooks won’t, so your voicemail is your best line of defense.”

News 5 contacted the Federal Communications Commission to get a response to the attorneys general letter and the FCC pointed to the following statement.”

Chairwoman Rosenworcel introduced this proposal in August, she wrote []: “We are making life harder for malicious robocallers. Widely available VoIP software can allow bad actors to make spoofed robocalls with minimal technical experience and cost. The FCC will consider a proposal to modernize our rules regarding direct access to numbers by providers of VoIP services. The changes would safeguard our finite numbering resources while seeking to curb robocalls and reduce the opportunity for regulatory arbitrage.”

Meanwhile, Ericka Dilworth, Cleveland Better Business Bureau director of operations, told News 5 consumers should not rely on caller ID and don't give personal information over the phone unless a consumer has initiated the call, or hang up and call the company back to verify a request for information.

“I don’t know that anybody really realized that companies were just going to try and buy new numbers, so that consumers would get a call from someone they thought was indeed from Amazon," Dilworth said. “We tell consumers all the time don’t answer your phone, or don’t assume that the call is from who you think it’s from. You absolutely can’t trust the caller ID unless you placed the call yourself. then you can believe who you called, you know the number that you called. It’s difficult time and time again to tell people don’t answer your phone, don’t give your personal information over the phone and it just continues to happen.”

How often to people fall for scams?

There's a preconceived notion that older Americans are most susceptible to robocall scams, but younger Americans are more likely to be tricked out of money through their phones.

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, nearly half of 20-somethings in the US reported losing money to phone fraud in 2020, compared to only 20% of people ages 70 to 79.

While younger Americans are more likely to be scammed, they're giving up less money. On average, 20-year-olds lost about $300, compared to $650 for people in their 70s.

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