FTC announces nationwide effort to crack down on robocalls

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
FTC announces nationwide effort to crack down on robocalls
Curious how to report scam calls? The FTC announced a nationwide effort to crack down on robocalls at their Chicago office Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, announced a nationwide effort to crack down on robocalls and other illegal telemarketing scams at their Chicago office Tuesday.

Officially titled "Operation Stop Scam Calls," the enforcement sweep involves a partnership between both federal and state agencies to prevent consumers from losing money to phone scams.

More than 100 federal and state law enforcement partners have taken 180 legal actions against scam callers in the last year, according to the FTC. From outright scams that fool people into handing over money, to robocalls that pose as legitimate telemarketers, these calls are deemed illegal and are estimated to lose consumers billions of dollars.

"Most robocalls are illegal under the Telemarketing Sales Rule," FTC Director of Consumer Protection Sam Levine said. "If companies are blasting robocalls into people's homes and don't have specific consent from the people they are calling, it doesn't matter what they are trying to sell. It's against the law."

Some of the legal actions taken by federal and state agencies have forced companies to enter into settlements or discontinue calls. However, while there are tactics in place to prevent such scams, state and federal investigators say there is no silver bullet when it comes to completely stopping scam calls.

SEE ALSO: Amazon scam: How to protect yourself from scammers impersonating online retail giant

To take matters into your own hands, Levine recommends first hanging up upon receiving a scam call. In addition, consumers should block the number when they receive a suspicious call and avoid turning over any personal information.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he, too, uses those prevention methods. Raoul is also working to support the FTC in the agency's legal efforts to put an end to the scam calls.

"It's more than just an annoyance," Raoul said. " These calls are used to commit fraud upon people and take advantage of them. It's detrimental to them financially and emotionally."

To block certain scam calls, a variety of apps can be downloaded on Android or iPhones using audio fingerprint technology. You can also ask your cell phone provider what features it has to filter out calls before receiving them.

Scam calls and specific phone numbers should be reported to the FTC's website in order for them to pursue legal action.