Money Matters: Silencing Robocalls

June 28, 2019 11:30

Sponsored by NEFE

Your phone rings. You go to answer, but the person has hung up after only one ring. You call back, not wanting to miss any important news. At the end of the month, your phone bill has skyrocketed. What happened? Federal telecoms regulators are warning about the “one-ring scam” that tricks people into placing expensive 900-number or international calls.

It’s just one of several scams and illegal practices that consumers lose thousands of dollars to every year.

Some of those calls may soon end. A new rule adopted by the FCC earlier this month  allows phone companies to automatically block robocalls before your phone even rings.

Currently, some carriers offer automatic blocking features, but require users to ask for it specifically, and other third-party apps also offer call-blocking services.

It is important to note that carries are allowed to charge for the feature, which could be in place by the end of the year.

The rule comes on the heels of a controversial recent proposal that would make it easier for debt collectors to call debtors.

The new robocall rule, however, enjoys widespread support – who doesn’t hate those annoying messages – but it’s actually not a universal win.

What many may not know is that telemarketing robocalls – automatically placed calls with pre-recorded messages trying to sell you something - are prohibited by law unless you’ve consented in writing. Legislation is also currently pending to widen the ban on robocalls.

The average person may just ignore those annoying – and illegal – robo-sales calls. But those who do know their rights  are poised to cash in. Call consumer lawyers in your area: Chances are someone’s won a settlement against a robocaller.
Ask about the risks and costs of taking legal action against robocallers. What about class action suits?

The Federal Trade Commission also recently announced an initiative to crack down on illegal robocalls. Take a look at what the initiative includes – your state Attorney General’s office may be involved. Find out what steps they’re taking, and whether they’ve seen consumers take legal action themselves.
 
Enter your consumer finance stories for the RTDNA/NEFE Personal Finance Reporting Awards

Three winners  – representing digital, radio and TV news – will each receive:
  • A $1,000 prize
  • Complimentary registration to the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio
  • Travel and hotel expenses
  • The opportunity to present your winning work at a conference session
Entries are due July 18.
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