LANSING — Officials on state and federal levels are taking steps to address the growing number of robocalls targeting Michigan residents.
According to YouMail, the number of robocalls made to people in Michigan has risen steadily from a little over 500 million in 2016 to more than 1.5 billion in 2019.
The office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently announced that since the launch of their robocall crackdown initiative in November, they’ve received more than 1,800 online complaints, making the Robocall Complaint Form the most viewed form on the Attorney General’s website.
Nessel also announced that around 1,700 people have signed up to become members of the Attorney General’s Robocall Crackdown Team. The goal of the team is to gather as much information on the robocalls as possible in order to come up with a strategy to stop them.
“Michigan is stepping up to help put an end to illegal robocalls,‘ Nessel said. “Robocall scammers are not only a nuisance, they are preying on the pocketbooks of good honest people, and that has to stop.‘
The top three topics mentioned in robocall complaints submitted to the Attorney General’s office are auto warranties, Social Security scams and offers to lower interest rates.
Aside from the common types of robocall complaints, the Attorney General’s office in January noticed an uptick in new robocall campaigns, including Apple Support adviser, Amazon Alexa (targeting businesses) and Medicare ineligibility.
“Robocallers will continue to adjust their approaches to scam us, and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to expose them,‘ Nessel said. “The public can be instrumental in our investigations through our Robocall Crackdown Team and each day we’re continuing to learn more about how these bad actors operate.‘
To further address the ongoing problem of robocalls, the Attorney General’s office is continuing preliminary investigative work into potential targets involved in major robocalling operations; working with the telecom industry on solutions and approaches to tracing illegal robocalls to their sources; developing protocols and procedures to expand and guide participation in the Robocall Crackdown Team and to supplement enforcement efforts; and working with partners in the Legislature to enact new laws that will allow the department to hold bad actors accountable.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters recently helped pass a couple of legislative acts to aid in the fight against robocalls and spoofing.
Ryan Flynn, deputy press secretary for Peters, said the senator co-sponsored the TRACED Act, which makes it easier for consumers to identify robocalls so that they can avoid answering them.
Flynn said Peters also co-led the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act to crack down on these calls by doubling the penalties for illegal caller-ID spoofing.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the best way to deal with robocalls is to simply hang up or don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. However, to aid investigators in their efforts to hold robocallers accountable, certain pieces of information are extremely helpful to the department’s efforts to investigate, particularly when submitted to the Attorney General’s office as part of an official complaint.
Those pieces of information include the robocaller’s phone number; your phone number and service provider; the date and time of the robocall; whether the robocall was soliciting goods or services worth at least $25; and the topic of the robocall scam.
Unfortunately, robocalls to landlines cannot be traced back so any complaints about landline calls cannot be used to further the department’s investigation.
To learn more about the AG’s robocall initiative or to sign up for the crackdown team, visit https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-82917_94178---,00.html.