Federal and state agencies announced efforts Tuesday to reduce the cost and nuisance of illegal and unwanted phone calls.
The upsurge in scammers posing as U.S. marshals prompted the U.S. Marshals Service for the Eastern District of Tennessee to issue a warning about callers claiming to be marshals who threaten imminent arrest or demand financial information for a variety of alleged crimes.
The announcement came as the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office also announced it was participating in Tuesday’s “Operation Call it Quits,” a nationwide effort by the Federal Trade Commission and its law enforcement partners to stem the tide of “universally loathed illegal robocalls.”
The Marshals Service warned that recipients of the scam calls are pressured to provide confidential data, potentially leading to identity theft and fraud. These calls threaten recipients with fines and jail time.
These calls are fraudulent and are not connected with the U.S. Marshals Service, the agency said in a news release. Even though the caller may sound legitimate, the service warns that recipients should never provide financial data or personal information over the phone.
There are multiple scams being reported nationwide. One scam reported on the East Coast involves criminals spoofing the marshals’ district office’s real number to trick people into sending money. “Spoofing” is a tactic where scammers use technology to modify the number on the caller ID to impersonate phone numbers from friends, local businesses and, in this case, law enforcement, to appear as if they are legitimate calls, the agency said.
The U.S. Marshals Service urges people to report the calls to their local FBI office (www.fbi.gov/con tact-us), and file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Remember, the agency said:
• U.S. marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers or bank routing numbers for any purpose.
• Do not divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
• You can remain anonymous when filing a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
• Authenticate the call by calling the agency the caller said they represented.
Operation Call it Quits
The Attorney General’s Office announcement about “Operation Call it Quits” includes four new cases and three new settlements from the FTC alone. Collectively, the defendants in these cases were responsible for making more than a billion illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide. Tuesday’s announcement brings the number of cases the FTC has brought against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call violators to 145.
More than 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018, making them the No. 1 source of consumer complaints to the FTC and the FCC and resulting in millions of dollars in consumer losses. The state attorneys general work to enforce Do Not Call laws and protect consumers in their states from being harassed and scammed by robocalls, the Tennessee AG said in a press release.
To learn how to stop unwanted calls go to www.consumer.ftc.gov.