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Scam Callers Still Dialing for Dollars


Federal Communications Commission acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has vowed to fight robocallers and scammers.


Press Pool

You don’t need the cunning of a secret agent to figure out why “Rachel from dealer services” calls about your warranty three times a day but doesn’t know what kind of car you drive. Ditto for the recorded message promising to lower your power bill, that rate offer from “VisaMastercard” or those notices that your Social Security number has been “suspended.”

A technology called STIR SHAKEN was supposed to fix this. Evoking James Bond’s preferred method of preparing a martini, it is an acronym for “Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs” that most U.S. phone companies were forced by law to adopt by the end of June.

The technology verifies the origin of a call to prevent scammers from spoofing a familiar number, but it doesn’t seem to have cut down on the sheer volume of unwanted calls during its first full month in place. YouMail’s Robocall Index reported 4.226 billion U.S. robocalls in July, down slightly from June but more than in May, with 37% being scams.

“We’re not going to stop until we get robocallers, spoofers, and scammers off the line,” vowed Federal Communications Commission acting Chairwoman

Jessica Rosenworcel

in a news release last month. As far as harried Americans can tell, though, the tough-talking agency is still phoning it in.

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Appeared in the August 31, 2021, print edition as ‘OVERHEARD.’

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