Monroe County

Nationwide task force formed, aimed at eliminating robocalls

As foreign calls enter the country, they must first pass through a layer of technology known as a gateway provider, before being passed along onto a major telecom carrier. It is this first point of contact, that the newly formed national task force is focusing on as it attempts to stop robocall scams.

“They’ve turned a blind eye because they’re making tons of money,” Tong said.

That money is coming at the expense of many Americans who, according to Tong, were bilked out of nearly $30 billion in robocall scams last year.

Almost everyone has gotten the calls. Tom Peckingham of Wethersfield said he canceled his landline because of them.

“What’s the point of paying for a landline if all I’m getting are ads and obnoxious calls?” he said.

It’s not just the ads, it the scams that worry Tong. From fraudulent car warrantee solicitation to ones pretending to be charities, Tong said among the most worrisome are romance scams, preying on people over 60.

“It’s really easy for someone to identify you and say, they’re really lonely and in a very poor emotional state, and to target them and to bilk them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Tong said.

When receiving these calls, Tong recommends not answering at all. He explains you should always assume that scammers are a step ahead.

As for the Gateway Providers, Tong said they are the port of entry for foreign calls. Before routing calls to telecom companies, they have a duty to mitigate illegal robocall traffic.

“We’re tired of the failure of gateway providers to take action and protect all of us,” Tong said. “We are going to hold them accountable.”

If you encounter a robocall scam, it’s recommended you report it to your carrier, the Department of Consumer Protection or the Attorney General’s office.

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