50% of the time, Americans won’t answer their cellphones

…for good reason.

❝ A big takeaway from a report released Tuesday by Hiya, a Seattle-based spam-monitoring service that analyzed activity from 450,000 users of its app to determine the scope of unwanted robo-calling — and how phone users react when they receive an automated call.

Consistent with other analyses, Hiya’s report found that the number of robo-calls is on the rise. Roughly 26.3 billion robo-calls were placed to U.S. phone numbers last year, Hiya said, up from 18 billion in 2017. One report last year projected that as many as half of all cellphone calls in 2019 could be spam.

❝ This month, T-Mobile said it would soon begin activating a technical protocol known as SHAKEN/STIR, a type of caller authentication that follows the same principles as website encryption. Other carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have also committed to implementing the feature. Endorsed by the FCC, the new protocol is part of an industry-wide push to limit the effects of caller-ID spoofing, which is when a spammer poses as a caller from a nearby area code in an effort to trick recipients into picking up the phone.

So, we can hope.

[1] I doubt the Feds are doing a fraction of what they might to stop spam phone calls. What’s their incentive? They don’t care a rat’s ass about consumers to begin with. Except keep us the primary source of tax dollars.

[2] Yup. I never answer my cellphone unless I see an ID from someone I care to talk to! More likely, I’ll wait for a recorded message that verifies who is calling.

One scumbag responsible for 96 million robocalls

❝ Have you ever gotten a phone call from a number that looked very similar to your own, only to pick up and realize it’s a robocall trying to sell you something?

If you have, you’re not alone. This week, the Federal Communications Commission slapped its largest fines ever on a Florida man it says is responsible for more than 96 million of those dreaded robocalls.

❝ Adrian Abramovich, the Miami man behind the scheme, was ordered to pay a $120 million fine this week as punishment for scamming millions of people with more than 96 million robocalls over a three-month period in 2016.

❝ While robocalls themselves aren’t illegal, it is illegal to “spoof” caller ID information in the name of defrauding people, which is exactly what the FCC says Abramovich did. He spoofed area codes as well as the first three digits of phone numbers in order to disguise the calls as legitimate calls from local numbers.

If you can’t do the time or pay the fine – than don’t commit the crime!

Throw Away The Key — Found Guilty for 96 Million Robocalls

A Miami man accused of flooding consumers with 96 million phone calls touting fake travel deals faces a record proposed $120 million fine from federal regulators, who said he operated the worst robocall spoofing effort they had seen.

Adrian Abramovich tried to trick consumers into answering and listening to his advertising messages, the Federal Communications Commission said in a news release Thursday. The pace of calls works out to an average of more than 1 million per day…

Calls appeared to come from local numbers, but those who answered were prompted to “Press 1” to hear about vacation deals, according to the FCC. If they did, consumers were connected to call centers not affiliated with companies mentioned in messages, such as Expedia Inc., TripAdvisor Inc., Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings…

Consumers who did “press 1″…ultimately connected Americans to call centers in Mexico that usually attempted to fleece innocent consumers out of their hard-earned money by promising too-good-to-be-true vacation deals,” Adam Medros, a senior vice president at TripAdvisor, said in an emailed statement. The company said it worked closely with the FCC to investigate after its customers called to complain.

Like the headline says, THROW AWAY THE KEY – after you take back all the money he stole plus penalties.

Cable company robocalled woman 153 times = $229,500 payment for harassment

Time Warner Cable has been ordered to pay a woman $229,500 (£150,000) after a judge ruled it had harassed her with automated calls.

Texas resident Araceli King received 153 computer-controlled “robocalls”, which continued after she had asked the company to stop.

US district judge Alvin Hellerstein said Time Warner Cable had acted in a “particularly egregious” manner…

Making unwanted automated calls is illegal in the US, and companies breaking the rules can face a fine of $1,500 for each call.

Mr Hellerstein said he had tripled the penalty for Time Warner because it had made 74 calls to Ms King after she had registered her complaint…

The US made it illegal to make unwanted automated calls in 2009…The law says marketers must have written permission from a person before robocalls can be made, although exceptions are made for surveys or if the subject matter is political or to do with a charity…

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc has said “customers are not required to consent to unwanted robocalls or robotexts”.

Sock it to ’em, Ms. King!

Cellphone users can block robocalls

Consumers have a right under a federal law to revoke their consent to being contacted on their cell phones by automated dialing systems, a U.S. appeals court decided on Thursday in a defeat for computer maker Dell Inc.

Reversing a lower court ruling, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania woman, Ashley Gager, who complained that Dell hounded her with more than 40 calls in less than three weeks to collect a delinquent debt after she had sent a letter asking it to stop.

Circuit Judge Jane Roth said Congress intended the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 to protect consumers from unwanted automated calls, a conclusion supported by a 2012 Federal Communications Commission ruling in an unrelated case…

According to court papers, Gager had in 2007 filled in her cellphone number in place of her home number on an application for a Dell credit line, which the Honesdale, Pennsylvania resident used to buy thousands of dollars of computer equipment.

After Gager defaulted, Dell began leaving the automated messages, and continued doing so even after receiving a letter in December 2010 from Gager asking it to stop, the papers show…

“Dell will still be able to telephone Gager about her delinquent account,” Roth said. “The only limitation imposed by the TCPA is that Dell will not be able to use an automated dialing system to do so.”

Robocalls are useful to warn of collective emergencies. That’s it. Everything that remains is audible spam or harassment. Generally from some cheap-ass company trying to keep from paying even minimum wage to part-time workers.

One more facet of the decline in privacy in the Land where Liberty is defined by profit structures.

Here’s a truly useful contest from [of all people] the Federal Trade Commission

In the United States, about 30 billion robocalls…are placed each year, and similar conditions hold across much of the world. In the U.S. and many other countries, most commercial robocalls are illegal. As part of an ongoing campaign against these illegal robocalls, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching its Robocall Challenge, seeking a solution that blocks illegal robocalls on cell phones and on landlines. It is offering a $50,000 cash prize for the best practical solution…

…Robocalling is very popular with a certain class of marketers whose services or products usually teeter on (or fall off) the border between misleading information and scams. The number of such calls…has skyrocketed with advances in technology, and government agencies are receiving huge waves of protests and complaints from their beleaguered citizens.

This has prompted the FTC to resort to using an innovation challenge for the first time. Hosted on Challenge.gov, it joins other government-sponsored challenges designed to empower the public to bring their best ideas and talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing issues. The FTC Robocall Challenge is free to enter and open to the public, and also to companies having ten or fewer employees. Entries will be accepted until January 17, 2013…If a winning solution is identified, the FTC will announce the winner(s) early next April.

Calling all geeks. There probably are high school students who can come up with reasonable solutions to this question. That’s just the start. How about some unemployed coder who couldn’t afford to move to Silicon Valley or NYC?

Go for it!

Corporate cruds want Congress to boost robocalls to your cellphone

Almost everyone with a landline has felt the annoyance of picking up the phone and realizing that a call is not from a friend or a family member but rather is a prerecorded message delivered by a software-robot…

Telemarketers cannot make prerecorded calls to either residential landlines or cellphones, unless the recipient has provided express consent or has a business relationship with the caller. For commercial calls that do not involve an explicit sales pitch, the law extends special protection to cellphones: automated equipment cannot be used unless the recipient has provided consent.

“Consent” is not hard to secure. Current law assumes that it is given by the act of providing one’s phone number, even if it was just for a one-time home delivery or was mentioned in reply to a clerk’s spoken question. This allows automated cellphone calls that may not be especially welcome, like a “customer satisfaction” survey administered entirely by robo-software, or robo-messages about an overdue payment.

The Federal Communications Commission has been working on a draft of a stricter rule defining consent. Businesses might be required to secure the customer’s consent in writing or from a box clicked online if automatic calling equipment will be used to call the customer’s cellphone in the future.

The American Bankers Association, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals and other trade groups want to prevent the F.C.C. from strengthening the consent requirement. They are backing a bill in the House, H.R. 3035, that they say would clarify issues of consent surrounding automated calls…

The bill is opposed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the Consumer Federation of America, Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Watchdog, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and other consumer advocates…

Cellphones are an immeasurable convenience. But the fact that the phones go wherever we go means that unwanted calls of any kind feel far more intrusive than calls that came in to the home number (for those who remember home numbers). The banks’ last nifty idea for consumers was a monthly charge for debit cards. Their fight to block stronger protection of our cellphone numbers is just as consumer-friendly.

So, uh, when you have a chance, drop your Congress-critter an email and ask which side they’re going to support? I wonder if they’ll straight-out support consumers or dance around the Maypole for a while and offer a canned corporate rationale?

Congress wants to make it legal to robocall your cell phone

The “Mobile Informational Call Act” is an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 and will allow political organizations, committees, and action groups to contact you on your mobile phone. The new bill…would allow political organizations to use automated dialers and robocall-systems to dial your cell phone and hand you off to a live person or play automated messages asking you to contribute to political campaigns or take surveys.

The result, should the bill pass and become law, is that you’ll be able to opt-out of specific campaigns and group calling lists, but political organizations that get your number through petitions, calling lists, or affiliated organizations will be able to call your mobile phone whenever they choose.

With the fall political campaign heating up and next year’s campaign starting over a year early, that can add up to a lot of unsolicited phone calls from various campaigns and political action committees, all looking for your help or money…

That includes you being charged for the minutes used.

As always, the best thing to do is contact your congressional representatives and let them know that you oppose the bill and would like them to oppose the bill as well. The National Political Do Not Contact Registry has a petition that you can sign to make your opposition to the bill known to your specific representatives…

Beyond signing the petition, standard rules for contacting your Congressional representatives apply: even if you sign the petition, you’ll have the most success if you reach out to your specific representatives and senators with a personal message (the petition linked to above allows you to personalize the message you send for this purpose).

Congress-critters are getting hip to the cyberworld. Some of them can even send and receive their own email without clicking on the link to Nigeria. Now, the self-serving creeps want you to pay for a new intrusion.

My experience is that they now pay attention to obviously individual/individualized comments on legislation – arriving via the Web. If you’re in favor of trying to save a tiny bit of privacy, isolation from the constant political sell – use one of the means suggested to instruct your elected representative.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Fort Bragg evacuations sparked by Haiti election robocalls!

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is investigating last year’s series of fervent campaign “robo-calls” by Haitian presidential candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, which led to evacuations at the Fort Bragg military base…

In the weeks prior to Haiti’s November election, anyone who had ever placed a call to Haiti received a string of pre-recorded calls from Martelly. After the Jan. 12 earthquake, the list included countless Haitian Americans, journalists, non-profit groups and the U.S. military.

They heard Martelly shouting in Creole, urging the Diaspora to support tet kale – the bald-headed one. His frantic tone even spooked the U.S. Army.

“There were people who didn’t understand what it was and speculated it was a terrorist threat in a foreign language,” said Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Abel. “Two or three buildings where the calls came in were evacuated.”

On Nov. 17, the Army criminal investigations team swept the cleared buildings for explosives and listened to recordings left on voice mailboxes, Abel said. “I listened to it and thought: ‘That’s not Arabic. That’s not Pashto. That sounds like French,” Abel said…

“We are aware of the situation and are looking into the matter,” said Robert Kenny, director of media relations for the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. “The Commission aggressively enforces provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which generally prohibits delivery of prerecorded messages to residential phones and also prohibits the use of automatic telephone dialing equipment in certain situations, such as calls to emergency lines, hospitals, and mobile phones.”

He noted that the law applies not only to calls made within the United States, but also to calls made from outside the country to U.S. phones.

Not only do we waste taxpayers dollars running and hiding from a freaking phone call because no one at an Army base recognized Creole – now, in their infinite wisdom, the FCC will waste more taxpayer dollars investigating what? That the calls took place? That they didn’t meet federal regulations? That they may apply exactly what sanctions to the company in Haiti that placed the robocalls?

The terrorists have won.