The California Public Utilities Commission is advising community members how to avoid being scammed as the South San Francisco Police Department continue to release reports detailing how our neighbors are tricked into believing bogus phone calls and giving up hard earned money. Recent reports include IRS phone scams where a person is told they owe tax money and if not paid within a short window of time, the person will be taken to jail.
CPUC Community Outreach and Regulatory Liaison, Sheri Boles, is available to present safety tips to your group bringing awareness of the tricks of the trade that utility scammers use against their targets. If you are interested in having Boles speak to your community/civic/service group please contact her directly at telephone number 415/703.1182 or by email at Sheri.Boles@CPUC.ca.gov Her office is located at 505 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco
Below are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission that Boles recently shared with us and we ask that our neighbors share this information with those who might be most vulnerable. Let’s make scammers know South City is not the place for them!
Your top 5 questions about unwanted calls and the National Do Not Call Registry
1. How can I make it stop?
You signed up for the Do Not Call Registry ages ago, but you’re suddenly getting a bunch of unwanted calls. What can you do?
Hang up. When you get illegal sales calls or robocalls, don’t interact in any way. Don’t press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to a live person. That just leads to more calls. Instead, hang up and file a complaint at donotcall.gov.
Investigate whether call blocking can help.
If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, your phone company may be able to block that number, but first ask whether there’s a fee for this service.
If you’re getting unwanted calls from a lot of different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users, and find out whether the service costs money.
2. Why me?
Your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, so why are you still getting calls?
Because of scammers. Most legitimate companies don’t call if your number is on the Registry. If a company is ignoring the Registry, there’s a good chance that it’s a scam.
We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of illegal sales calls — particularly robocalls. Advances in technology have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information.
3. What are you doing about it?
The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and individuals for placing unwanted calls. The FTC also is leading several initiatives to develop technology-based solutions. Those initiatives include a series of robocall contests that challenge tech gurus to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers. We’re also encouraging industry efforts to combat caller ID spoofing.
4. Is anyone listening?
You filed a complaint — or several complaints — and you want to know when you’ll hear back from the FTC.
Due to the volume of complaints we get, we can’t respond directly to each one. But please keep the complaints coming because the FTC and other law enforcement agencies analyze complaints to spot trends and to take legal action against wrongdoers. To date, the FTC has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against companies and individuals for Do Not Call violations.
5. But I gave you the phone number of the company that called me?!
Current technology makes it easy for scammers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information, so the number you reported in your complaint probably isn’t real. Without more information, it’s difficult for us to identify the actual caller. Nonetheless, the FTC analyzes complaint data to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns. The agency also is pursuing a variety of technology-based solutions to combat illegal calls and practices.
Still have more questions? Check out the FTC’s updated FAQs about the Do Not Call Registry.