WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Robocalls, fighting back & future fixes

The unwanted intrusions are downright obnoxious and overwhelming for thousands of people in the Tennessee Valley. Take heart, though. Some people are fighting back, and lawmakers are proposing legislative action.

Posted: May 10, 2019 6:17 PM
Updated: May 10, 2019 6:42 PM

The unwanted intrusions from robocalls are downright obnoxious and overwhelming for thousands of people in the Tennessee Valley.

However, working hard, this real estate agent wants people to know her phone number and call it.

“It’s because I want to sell you a house or I want to list your house,” Caitlin Fite told WAAY 31.

As for robocallers, Caitlin has their number.

“They have a credit card for me or insurance are normally the two things they say to me,” Caitlin told WAAY 31. “The bad thing about the robocallers these days is they have the area code here. So, it’s hard for me to decipher is it a robocall or is it an actual customer.”

Scammers steal part of Caitlin’s day – time she wants to be working. And since her phone is her financial lifeline, robocallers put Caitlin between a rock and a hard place. “I answer my phone regardless whether it’s a robocall or not,” she told us. “The robocalls are a lot more frustrating. But, I still answer my phone.“

You can answer your phone, too.

To fight back, technology experts recommend installing apps. Among the highest rated are Hiya and Nomorobo. They block spam calls. YouMail is another popular app. It answers known spam calls with an out-of-service message which should remove your number from call lists.

Speaking of lists, the Federal Trade Commission told WAAY 31 the Do Not Call Registry still works if companies follow the law. For scammers who don’t, the FTC says it helps for you to report those lawbreakers to them.

It’s government regulators who have the most power against robocallers. But, even they can get frustrated because many scammers set up shop intending to break the law. And they’re just out of reach of law enforcement.

The Alabama attorney general’s office told WAAY 31 it registers and regulates telemarketers. But the AG’s legal muscle stops at the state line. And the vast majority of robocallers operate outside Alabama.

A proposed bill in the U.S. Senate called the TRACED act would force phone carriers to stop spam calls and increase fines against illegal robocallers.

Senator Richard Shelby told WAAY 31, “I am supportive of the ongoing efforts by the FTC and the FCC to combat illegal robocallers. There are also several legislative proposals that have been introduced which Congress is considering. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find a long-term solution to address this issue.”

There’s possible help in the Alabama legislature, too. A proposed house bill would make it felony for a scammer to pass off someone else’s phone number as their own.

“I wish somebody would come up with a way that they couldn’t get the numbers,” Caitlin told us. “I don’t know what the solution really is. But, I wish there was a solution.”

Caitlin Fite says a solution can’t come fast enough for her. “It would make it a lot easier. Because then I wouldn’t have to sit there and say Do I answer or not. Which I’m going to answer. But, it would make it a lot easier on me.”

We’ve spent the past five days bringing you a series of investigative reports on robocalls. To find them all, click here.

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