Iowa’s attorney general’s office, along with 50 other attorney generals, has formed a task force aimed at curtailing illegal robocalls in the United States. The task force’s focus is to investigate and shut down telecommunications providers that profit from failing to stop the illegal scam calls.
Over 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day, according to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center. In 2020, there was a decrease in scam calls due to the pandemic.
Scam calls are now on the rise again, resulting in more than 1,500 calls per second, according to AARP.
The Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force has issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 entities allegedly making foreign scam calls. Roughly $29.8 billion was stolen through robocalls in 2021 alone, according to a press release from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
“Robocalls aren’t just an Iowa problem,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller stated in a press release. “They are a nationwide problem. That is why I am proud to join my fellow attorneys general. We will take this fight to anyone who helps these scammers and robocallers. If the telecom industry won’t police itself, the Task Force will.”
Imposter scams, which include phone calls, emails and social media posts, had the third highest number of complaints to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office in 2021. As of 2022, 146 million robocalls have taken place in Iowa, equaling an estimated 50 calls per targeted person, according to Robocall Index.
The callers often fraudulently present themselves as the Social Security Administration or Amazon, during which the caller will ask consumers to make a payment through a gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. Many of the scams target seniors and other vulnerable populations. The Social Security Administration typically contacts individuals through the mail if there are problems with an account as opposed to over the phone.
According to the Social Security Administration’s website, employees will never promise benefits in exchange for personal information or money. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office recommends vigilance against prerecorded calls pretending to be government agencies.
Service providers are improving blocking and labeling resources to help consumers avoid scam calls. Consumers can also register to call blocking services with their cellphone providers. The Federal Communications Commission provides a list of tools for anyone experiencing unwanted scam calls.
Consumers are encouraged to report robocall complaints to the Consumer Protection Division at email@example.com or by phone at 515-281-5926 or 888-777-4590.