Here's why those tiresome 'auto warranty' spam calls may finally become a thing of the past
“We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty."
Is there a sound on Earth that fills people with more rage than the following:
“We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty. You should have received something in the mail about your car’s extended warranty. Since we have not gotten a response, we are giving you a final courtesy call before we close out your file. Press 2 to be removed and put on our Do-Not-Call list. Press 1 to speak with someone about extending or reinstating your car's warranty.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says there have been more than 8 billion unlawful prerecorded message auto warranty scam calls sent to American consumers since at least 2018.
The scammers lure people in with the lie that they’re calling about a car warranty and then ask for sensitive financial information to defraud them. Unfortunately, even though Americans lost out on $39.5 billion last year to phone scammers, the government has not been very effective at stopping the calls.
A recent study published by The Ascent revealed that last year, 68.4 million Americans fell victim to phone scams with 20% being victimized on multiple occasions. The scams are more likely to defraud younger people and men.
The sheer number of annoying robocalls has driven many people to stop picking up the phone altogether.
\u201cI love that there was a period of time when it was like 'grrr someone should fix these robocalls' and then they never really did and now we just don't answer phones anymore\u201d— Lord Businessman (@Lord Businessman) 1634048356
In 2019, Congress passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (or TRACED) Act but the audio-dialing industry has been able to keep a step ahead of the law. Fortune says that blame can also be placed on federal agencies whose inaction has allowed scammers to get off scot-free and big businesses for their "tacit support for robocalling.”
On July 7, the FCC announced that it is actively investigating the calls for formal legal violations. This step could mean the end of years of foot-dragging.
“Billions of auto warranty robocalls from a single calling campaign. Billions! Auto warranty scams are one of the top complaints we get from consumers and it’s time to hold those responsible for making these junk calls,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
\u201cIn the past 2 years, auto warranty scam #robocalls have resulted in more consumer complaints to us than any other unwanted call category. These calls usually claim your insurance or warranty is about to expire, and they often use PII to make it seem legit. https://t.co/Rc6t4ioUvn\u201d— The FCC (@The FCC) 1657234017
It also sent cease-and-desist letters to top phone carriers asking them to stop carrying the calls within 48 hours from Roy Cox Jr., Aaron Michael Jones, their Sumco Panama companies and other international associates.
The FCC says that the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama operation could be responsible for the 8 billion scam calls.
"The Enforcement Bureau will use all the tools at its disposal to protect consumers and U.S. telecommunications networks from the scourge of illegal robocalls," Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan A. Egal said in a statement.
Let’s hope that the new regulations passed by the FCC are successful at stopping these fraudsters who are annoying at best and at their worst, take advantage of the most vulnerable. A phone should be a means for communication, not an open hotline for scammers around the globe to try to take advantage of people.
Then, just maybe, we’ll feel free to pick up the phone again.