The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin is warning Wisconsinites about recent robocalls –prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls to consumers–being reported throughout the state.
Telemarketing sales calls with recorded messages are generally illegal unless you have given the company or caller written permission to call you.
Consumers have reported receiving phone calls which appear to be from local phone numbers, some report the calls are, in fact, similar to their own home phone number. However, BBB believes the calls are likely not local, and probably coming from overseas perpetrators who purchase lists of cell and home phone numbers, or use robocall capabilities to randomly dial. Using a technique called “spoofing”, criminals attempt to trick customers into thinking a call is coming from a legitimate home or business.
The BBB has received numerous calls within the last few days, and other BBB’s throughout the country recently report the same. The BBB is advising consumers to use caution when providing information over the phone.
Here’s how the scheme works: Your phone rings, the number may look familiar, local, or within the U.S. When the call is answered, a computerized voice claims to have methods to lower your credit card interest rates. They then may require you to provide a credit card number.
“Con artists use software and devices to dial over the internet, and can then make any business name and phone number appear on caller I.D.”, said Ran Hoth, CEO and President of the BBB Serving Wisconsin. “This hijacking scheme allows callers to attempt to gain your trust, as well as your important personal or financial information.”
On September 1, 2009, unwanted robocalls became prohibited by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls. As part of the Telemarketing Sales Rule , sellers and telemarketers who transmit prerecorded messages to consumers who have not agreed in writing to accept such messages can face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
Before responding to unsolicited phone calls, the BBB advises: