RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to slowly diminish, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the number of robocalls and scam texts hitting our phones.
Software designed to stop these calls was mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but right now, it’s not as effective as it should be, research shows.
Last June the FCC said the software known as Stir/Shaken was supposed to be implemented by all carriers to make it tougher for robocalls or scams to get to you.
Almost one year later, there are still holes in the system that allow a lot of these calls to get through.
“It’s getting worse all the time,” CBS 17 viewer Shirley Collier said.
She told Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia she is inundated with robocalls daily.
“Yesterday I got 37,” Collier said. “It makes it so you can’t use your own phone.”
Collier said she is on the national do not call list, but also said it does her no good.
Last June, the FCC mandated carriers start using software known as STIR /SHAKEN, that in effect, puts a digital fingerprint on a call. It is supposed to block any calls that may be spoofed or suspicious.
However, it only works if all carriers Implement the software, and right now the FCC is allowing certain carriers with less than 100,000 subscribers to wait until June 30, 2023 before using the software.
That leaves big companies such as T-Mobile on their own to try and curb robocalls and robotexts.
“We have a global database of scam numbers and add new numbers to our database every 6 minutes,” T-Mobile representative Steve Carlson told CBS 17.
In addition to scam calls, there has been a huge increase in scam and spam texts that make their way to your phone.
In just the month of March alone, 11.7 billion scam texts reached us, along with 7.6 billion scam calls.
“I don’t know why I am getting these calls,” Collier said, who averages between 30 to 40 per day.
Carlson said one way the bad guys get around the system is to dial scores of numbers in sequence.
“That’s a big challenge wireless carriers have,” he said.
The big carriers, such as T-Mobile, try and track the way a call comes into their network, looking to see if it’s going to too many numbers and not getting a lot of callbacks.
Carlson said that way carriers like T-Mobile can stop it those calls if the customers are using scam blocking technology on their smartphone. Even so, he said it’s tough to try and completely eliminate scam calls.
“The scammers are always looking for new ways to reach us” Carlson said. “The best thing we can do is put up barriers.”
The best way to thwart the scammers is to not reply to their texts and let all unknown calls go to voicemail, however.
If you acknowledge them in any way, the scammers realize there’s a real person at the other end of the line and they’ll just keep trying to get to you one way or another.