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Times West Virginia (Fairmont)
How many times has it happened to you?
Your cellphone rings while you’re at dinner with your significant other and it may resemble a number of a friend or loved one. You answer the phone because it may be an emergency.
However, when you go to answer it, a recorded voice comes on the line to offer you anything ranging from a new car warranty to student loan forgiveness, or a senior life insurance policy.
Welcome to the scam commonly referred to as the robocall.
Now, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is joining a coalition of state attorneys general who are seeking to push the Federal Communications Commission to stop illegal robocalls and spoofing.
Spoofing are those calls that may appear to be a local call on your caller ID, but the call may actually be coming from a server in another part of the U.S. or even another country altogether.
“Scam calls hurt consumers, hurt business and this annoyance must come to an end,’’ Morrisey said May 6 in Bluefield.
So, why all of a sudden is the West Virginia Attorney General taking what seems like action against robocalls. After all, hasn’t there been the federal Do Not Call List for years?
Like many consumer protections put in place over the years, scammers find a way to work around the roadblocks and continue to pester consumers.
Morrisey and other members of the coalition hope their recent trip to Washington, D.C. where they lobbied for the changes will turn into a positive that will allow West Virginias to get on with life and spend less time be bothered by scam phone calls.
Morrisey said robocalls are “one of the top complaints we get every year.’’
“We do everything we can to report these calls and update do-not-call lists,’’ Morrisey said.
He’s even gone so far that he with several phone companies to try and gain their commitment to expedite the deployment of scam-blocking technology. This would empower consumers to take matters into their own hands and dramatically reduce the number of annoying calls, he said.
And in March, he supported passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, or TRACED Act, which would enable states, federal regulators and telecom providers to take steps to combat illegal robocalls.
So, what’s it going to take to stop the scamming?
Public education campaigns to urge seniors and other vulnerable populations to not answer these calls are not enough. These campaigns end up leaving consumers feeling they’ve experienced a half-measure.
Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls in 2018 and overall robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. The FCC relates that imposter scams have reportedly cost consumers $488 million in 2018 alone.
West Virginians and the rest of the U.S. have had enough.
We support Morrisey’s attempt at what might seem like another fight between David and Goliath or, perhaps, cat and mouse?
Either way, get robocalls out of our lives.