Texarkana, TX 79° Tue H 81° L 68° Wed H 89° L 73° Thu H 87° L 71° Weather Sponsored By:

Robocalls deserve to die; we'll settle for injuries

Robocalls deserve to die; we'll settle for injuries

May 13th, 2019 by Chicago Tribune in Opinion Editorial

Not since extra-loud TV commercials have Americans and Congress stood so united against a peace-shattering electronic scourge. This time, the offender is robocalls, which take a greater toll than just annoying us.

Robocalls spawn for a simple reason: They work. There are real financial victims. The Chinese embassy scam, with messages in Mandarin, has tricked immigrants and visitors from China into handing over $40 million. Older people are susceptible to appeals purporting to be about medical issues, Social Security payments or family members in need. Some calls claim to be from the IRS; others have targeted victims of natural disasters including Hurricane Harvey.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both of Illinois, are among sponsors of legislation that would give robocall fraud victims greater recourse. Bills in the House and Senate would crank up fines on robocallers, allow more time to prosecute offenders and tighten language banning some types of calls.

Cellular service providers offer some solutions, and the Federal Trade Commission is pushing them to do more. New methods they can deploy have the potential to greatly help by authenticating calls. Apps can silence or intercept some calls. But the easy technology and rock-bottom cost of dialing for dollars gives scammers, often operating overseas, plenty of incentive to stay a step ahead of evolving defenses.

One of their latest malevolent innovations: the "one ring" scam, in which a call stops after a single ring, leaving a tantalizing mystery in the air. The calls are often repeated and come in the middle of the night, attempting to prompt worried recipients to call back to figure out who needs to reach them so urgently. Woe to the trusting person who rings back, though; that call will result in toll charges that profit the scammer.

Robocalls hit us where we live—literally—and worse, light up our ever-present mobile phones, making the continual interruptions all but inescapable. What can people do to silence the mobile menace? We suggest signing up for the federal Do Not Call list, seeing what protections your mobile service provider offers and investigating robocall-blocking apps. Caretakers, caution elderly or disabled people.

We're heartened that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are taking up the cause to protect Americans' pocketbooks and to provide ways to punish offenders. For a long time, though, government agencies and tech companies have vowed to end fraud of various types. Bill Gates announced in 2004 that email spam would be eliminated within two years.

We've learned to be as suspicious of these promises as we are of recordings telling us there is urgent business to discuss about our Apple device. But we urge lawmakers, federal agencies and the telecom companies to quiet this beast.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com