FCC and Congress Work to Crack Down on Robocalls

The tech company HIYA says consumers received 18 billion robocalls in 2017  - a 76 percent increase from the year before. The government is looking at ways to stop them, but there are apps you can use to help cut the annoying calls.

Robocalls have become a way of life for most Americans.  Friends Lori Meisenheimer and Dana Cipolla have both received threatening calls from scam artists posing as the IRS.

"And you will be taken into custody by the local cops," the voice on the call says.
"Tthe local police, the police," Lori and Dana laugh.

Kristie Campochiaro and her kids get robocalls daily.  "Sometimes I say, 'Gotta go,' and I hang up." 

Kristie often receives calls with her 818 Los Angeles area code, even though the caller is from out of state or overseas.  

It's known as neighbor spoofing. Computer software mimics the first six digits of your phone number.

Authorities say this man, Adrian Abramovich, is a robocall kingpin behind millions of spoofed calls that pitched timeshares.
"I'm not the robocall kingpin that's alleged," he counters.

He's facing a $120 million fine from the FCC and on Wednesday, testified before a Senate committee under subpoena.
"I'm not going to answer that question."
(Lawmaker) "You're envoking the fifth amendment."
"I'm envoking the fifth Amendment," Abramovich repeated.

He didn't give many direct answers but did say it's simple to buy the software for a robocall operation.
"The technology is easy to obtain and can be used by anyone."

Phone providers have recently taken steps to try and intercept unwanted robocalls.
There are also several smart phone apps available to block them -including Truecaller, Hiya and Nomorobo. 

Another called "Youmail" is a free service that tricks robocallers into thinking you don't exist.
"So we play an out of service message, 'this number is out of service' to any number that we recognize is a bad number."

But it can be difficult for the apps to spot and block all the numbers because robocallers are constantly changing tactics to get you to answer.

Some apps and phone companies charge to provide robocall blocking features.

(Danielle Nottingham, CBS News)

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