Robocalls are intrusive and unwelcome disruptions to all our lives. At best, they are annoying distractions that rob people of a few seconds of their day – seconds that add up over time. At worst, they scam hard-working people out of their life savings. In 2021 alone, North Carolinians reported more than 10,000 robocalls to our office. These illegal robocalls are a scourge, and Attorney General Josh Stein is fighting to protect North Carolinians from robocallers and robocall scams.
Responding to Robocalls
The next time you receive a call from someone you don’t know or from a number you don’t recognize, follow these tips to avoid being scammed:
- First, don’t pick up! If you don’t know who’s on the other end, don’t bother answering the phone.
- If you do pick up and you’re not sure if the call is real, hang up and call the office the robocaller claimed to be calling from (ex. Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office). Look for the number listed on the office’s website and contact them directly to ask if the call you received was legitimate.
- Never give your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number to someone you don’t know.
- Do not press “1” or any other number. Just hang up. If a recording directs you to push a button for any reason, including to get your phone number taken off of the calling list, don’t do it. Doing anything other than hanging up could actually wind up getting you added to more calling lists and may connect you to people who will continue to try to scam you.
- A government agency will never call you to demand a payment or threaten arrest for failing to make a payment.
- If someone’s giving you an offer that’s ‘now or never’ or sounds too good to be true – be wary. It’s probably a scam.
- Legitimate businesses do not require you to pay them in gift cards – that’s always a scam.
- Don’t panic or feel pressured into giving your money or personal information away. Scammers use fear tactics to try to get you to act without thinking. Take a step back and consider your situation – or talk to someone you know to get their thoughts.
- Report the robocall to our robocall hotline at (844)-8-NO-ROBO or online here.
- Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on telemarketing sales calls.
Attorney General Stein’s Work to Combat Robocalls
Attorney General Josh Stein is leading the fight nationwide to stop the scourge of robocalls.
In 2020, he launched the Robocall Report Task Force as a part of Operation Silver Shield, a larger effort to confront scammers and fraudsters who seek to harm older North Carolinians. This task force works with both public and private actors to advance bipartisan legislation, trace the source of illegal robocalls, and more.
Attorney General Stein led 15 major phone companies and attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to create and adopt the Anti-Robocall Principles in 2019. The Principles utilize prevention and enforcement tactics to combat robocalls. These tactics include implementing call-blocking technology at the network level and providing additional blocking tools at no cost to customers. This massive bipartisan, private/public agreement was an important step to help protect phone users from being defrauded by illegal robocalls and made it easier to identify and prosecute those behind the illegal calls. Click here to view your phone service provider’s progress on implementing these principles.
Last year, phone companies were required to implement STIR/SHAKEN, caller ID authentication technology that combats spoofing by ensuring that telephone calls originate from verified numbers. This technology was an important part of the Anti-Robocall Principles. Because the technology prevents robocallers from spoofing phone numbers, scam robocalls have dropped by 29 percent since June of 2021, as the phone industry continues to put STIR/SHAKEN into effect. However, smaller phone companies were given an extension to implement the technology, which compromises STIR/SHAKEN’s overall effectiveness. Attorney General Stein successfully led a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move up this deadline for smaller companies to more effectively cut down on spoofed calls
In November of last year, Attorney General Stein led a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general in supporting the FCC’s action to reduce illegal robocallers’ access to legitimate phone numbers. Scammers and criminals use these phone numbers to evade STIR/SHAKEN and make unending calls to consumers.
Holding Robocallers Accountable
Attorney General Stein’s most recent work in holding robocallers accountable is his pathbreaking lawsuit against gateway provider Articul8 and its owner Paul K. Talbot of Texas. In his lawsuit, Attorney General Stein alleges the defendants violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and facilitated illegal and fraudulent telemarketing calls. Gateway providers work by allowing international calls onto the U.S. phone network. Once scam callers get on the network, they can annoy and scam people in the United States. In 2020 and 2021, Articul8 routed more than 65 million calls to North Carolinians.
Attorney General Josh Stein shut down an enormous telefunding operation that falsely claimed to support charities for veterans, children, and firefighters. The fraudsters raised $110 million by harassing millions of generous Americans with more than 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls.
In 2020, Attorney General Josh Stein reached a $210 million settlement with Dish Network for violating do-not-call laws. North Carolina received $13,986,000—the largest penalty ever obtained in the state over do-not-call violations—and most of it will go to benefit North Carolina’s public schools.
He also filed a complaint against Texan robocallers for harassing North Carolinians with 75 million robocalls in 2019 and 2020.
Learn more about Attorney General Stein’s Efforts to Combat Illegal Robocalls:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Calling for Faster Implementation of Anti-Robocall Technology
- Attorney General Josh Stein Commends FCC Actions to Stop Illegal International Scam Calls
- Attorney General Josh Stein Statement on DO NOT Call Act
- Attorney General Josh Stein Provides Update on Fight Against Robocalls
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Fighting to Defend Robocall Protections
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition of 38 Attorneys General Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Block Robocall Loopholes
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads States’ Efforts to Expose Illegal Robocallers
- Attorney General Josh Stein Urges FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls and Spoofing
- Attorney General Josh Stein Continues Work to Fight Illegal Robocalls
- Attorney General Josh Stein on U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Robocalls
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Urging the FCC to Strengthen Efforts to Stop Robocalls
- Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Coalition Urging Congress to Take Action Against Robocalls
- Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Fight Against Robocalls