GREAT FALLS - We're now in our fifth month of our You Asked campaign, where we answer questions from community members across the Treasure State. We've answered over 20 questions from our viewers and we’re answering yet another in this article.
Thursday’s question comes to us from Rodney. He asked KFBB this question a while ago and it's something we'veY been working on for weeks.
Rodney asked us if phone providers allow robocallers to use familiar numbers when they reach out to people. In other words, you're getting a phone call from what looks like a familiar number, but are actually unknown calls coming from as far away as other countries.
And it seems he's not the only one. We put a post on Facebook this morning, and over a dozen people commented with their experiences on robocalls. Some have gotten fake calls for warranties, student loans and even insurance, often multiple times a day.
Turns out, telemarketers and scammers don't go through service providers to get those numbers. Instead they use a method called caller ID spoofing
It's an approach where they use fake caller ID information to make it look like they're calling from a different place or phone number. They can look like they're from local businesses, friends or even your own phone. This can trick the average joe into answering numbers that look recognizable, instead of hanging up or blocking the call altogether.
There are rules in place from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit telemarketing calls, including the use of a do not call list.
We talked with Congressman Greg Gianforte Thursday afternoon, who pressed other federal officials Wednesday about their efforts to stop illegal robocalls.
Gianforte says that in the last year alone, there have been over 26 billion calls nationwide despite those FTC rules
"People have a reasonable expectation if they put their name on the do not call list, they won't get called. But that's not what's happening now,” said Gianforte.
The congressman says that's why he's supporting the STOP Robocalls act.
The bill allows phone-users to automatically register for blocking services free of charge. Additionally, it also allows service providers to share information with the Federal Communications Commission to help track and stop illegal robocalls, and requires the agency to create studies on tracing them.
If you ever receive an illegal robocall, the FTC says you shouldn't respond in any way. In fact, they encourage you to hang up and report the call to the agency at (202) 326-2222 or visit their official website.