Tag: robocalls

When Ajit Pai was appointed the new FCC Chairman, there were a lot of questions about what changes he would make following former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s time in office. One of those questions revolved around robocalls and how to stop them. While some may have been nervous that Chairman Pai would let this fight go by the wayside, Hiya never was.

Back in September, after the recent launch of an industry-led Robocall Strike Force, Hiya hosted the FCC at our Seattle headquarters. Visitors included then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, then-Commissioner Ajit Pai, and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.

What did then-Commissioner Pai have to say about his visit?

“I had the pleasure, a few weeks ago, of meeting with an innovative company called Hiya, up in Seattle, and one of the things they showed me was that Americans have received 984 million robocalls on their cell phones, in September alone. That’s 4.5 robocalls for each mobile phone in the United States. That’s why I think it’s so important for this industry, including those participating in the Robocalls Strike Force, to do this job.” -Former Commissioner Pai, now Chairman Pai

It wasn’t just lip service. Since his appointment at the end of January, Chairman Pai has continued to highlight the robocall epidemic and his plans to put these annoying calls to an end. Earlier this month, Chairman Pai circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to his fellow Commissioners proposing service providers the ability to block illegal and fraudulent robocalls.

“Under my proposal, the FCC would give providers greater leeway to block spoofed robocalls,” Pai announced. “Specifically, they could block calls that purport to be from unassigned or invalid phone numbers (there’s a database that keeps track of all phone numbers, and many of them aren’t assigned to a voice service provider or aren’t otherwise in use). There is no reason why any legitimate caller should be spoofing an unassigned or invalid phone number. It’s just a way for scammers to evade the law.”

This Thursday, March 23, exactly two months after Pai accepted the role as Chairman, the FCC is holding their March Open meeting and robocalls are at the very top of the agenda. We look forward to hearing Chairman Pai’s plans to continue the fight against unwanted calls.

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Robocalls are getting center stage these days, but as they get more and more attention, are you aware that there are different types of unwanted calls, and all these types of calls aren’t necessarily from robots?

Just like apples, that come in a variety of types such as Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Pink Ladies, phone scammers are tricking you with a variety of ways to steal your identity or personal information.

Now’s the time to test your phone scam knowledge. How many of these phone tactics can you pinpoint as a type of phone scam? Good luck!

Unwanted Scam 1:
It’s three months after tax season, and you’ve just received a call informing you that there is a warrant out for your arrest due to your involvement with tax fraud. If you do not want drastic measures to be executed, they tell you that you must call the IRS back at the following number.

a) Bobbing
b) Phishing
c) Wading
d) Floating


Phishing: When you receive a fraudulent message that tricks you into believing it’s from a legitimate establishment (bank, IRS, phone company etc.), that is called phishing. Scammers will give you phone numbers to call that will try to acquire your personal information and steal your identity.

Unwanted Scam 2:
You receive a text message that states your bank account has been compromised and your account has been suspended. The only way to reactivate your account is to click on a link to verify your personal information.

a) SMiShing
c) Bumping
d) Crashing


SMiShing (SMS phishing): When a scammer sends a text message that tries to trick you into clicking a link. The link then downloads a virus or other malware onto your mobile device. These scams try to look like legitimate alerts from your bank, however, it’s a scam to steal money from your account.

Unwanted Scam 3:
You get a call but you don’t recognize the number. However, they do have a local area code so it must be someone from your area, right?

a) Spelunking
b) Sketching
c) Kerplunking
d) Spoofing


Caller ID Spoofing: When a caller disguises themselves, by name or number (or both!), by transmitting information to your caller ID display. This tactic is often used to trick consumers into giving away personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally.

Unwanted Scam 4:
Your phone rings and when you pick up, you hear an automated recording alerting you that your credit card has had fraudulent activity. The automated messaged then instructs you to enter your credit card number on the key pad to confirm your account.

a) Frying
b) Crabbing
c) Vishing
d) Curling


Vishing (Voice phishing): When a scammer steals a consumer’s personal information or money using the telephone network. They claim to be from a legitimate company and request your personal information to resolve the so-called financial issue.

So, how’d you do? Whether you got them all right on your first try, or maybe just one or two, we hope that seeing and hearing these real-life examples will help keep you safe the next time a scammer comes to call.

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A the fight against robocalls gets the hot seat, a number of these calls are hitting us hard disguising themselves as debt collectors, retailers, and phone companies. As a huge amount of these calls spans across the U.S., Vocativ gives us a few tips on how we can deal with all these unwanted calls.

Check out how they’ve highlighted Hiya as one of the solutions to block nuisance calls and how you can protect yourself from the growing numbers of robocalls!


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The fight against robocalls has become a hot topic now that it’s affecting more and more consumers each day. With the FCC pushing carriers to provide consumers with solutions to this growing problem, you can start protecting yourself without having to wait to be protected.

Check out how easy it is to start blocking those annoying robocalls!

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Every month, over 150,000 people report robocallers to the FTC and FCC. You know robocalls as the automated messages that take you from calm and happy to sheer annoyance in the span of 2 milliseconds. The only legitimate robocallers are from a nonprofit, or are informational or political (because even legal robocalls can be annoying). Unfortunately, the majority of robocallers these days are both illegal and annoying. According to the FCC, companies “require prior express written consent to deliver an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call to a cell phone.” If you didn’t give your consent, then it’s illegal. If they’re trying to sell you a good or service, it’s also illegal.

With modern technology on our side, here are six tips to help you avoid robocallers:

Your phone number is not a gift. Don’t give it out. Don’t want people calling your number? Don’t spread it around like chicken pox at a 2nd grade lunch table. When you list your number on Facebook, Craigslist, online forms, etc., spiders pick it up wherever you put it down. That tiny font that you never read? Yep. That’s you granting them access to your number.

Block spam with an app. If you’re already getting the same calls day after day, then bad news, you’re already on their list [gasp]. Thankfully, it’s 2016. We have apps that can fix that. Check out your Google Play or App Store and load some protection onto your cell.

Block the caller. If you only have one persistent number that is interrupting your day, you can block that specific number. Now, if the robocaller wises up and gets a new number, rinse and repeat. Unfortunately, most robocall numbers are extinct within two weeks of their first call.

Get a second set of digits. I’m not talking about a fake number that you give out to creeps at a bar. If you have to publicly post your number, it may be time to get a second phone number. It’s not my favorite choice, but if you’re in deep, this could be the only viable option left for your sanity.

Report that $!*#. Don’t suffer alone! AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and Bell users can copy spam texts and forward them to 7726 (SPAM), free of charge. To report a robocall, use the FCC’s Complaint Board.

Register on the Do Not Call List. Ah, the tried and true. You can register your landline or mobile number here. Unfortunately, being on the DNC registry doesn’t protect you from illegal calls, but it will put an end to any legitimate robocalls.

Today’s mobile world is full of pros and cons, worthy of its own rollercoaster. For every cat video at your fingertips, there’s someone looking to take advantage of your number. Fight the robocallers and free up more time for guilty pleasures. #Catvideosforall.

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Wall Street Journal Personal Technology Columnist Joanna Stern takes a deep dive into the current landscape of robocalls. With a passion to cut off robocalls at the source, Joanna researches the best solutions to take down the “robot apocalypse” of pre-recorded and unwanted phone calls. Lucky for her, that happens to be our specialty.

“Apps like Hiya […] can alert you when a scammer calls, checking the incoming number against databases of phone numbers commonly used by illegal robocallers.”

To hear more about robocalls and how to fight back, with a firecracker of a narrator, click the image below.


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Update: Earlier in June, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently introduced the ROBOCOP Act into the Senate. The ROBOCOP Act would direct the FCC to require that telephone service providers offer their customers free, optional robocall-blocking technology.

If you’ve been caught at home sick with the flu and are just hoping to get a full day of rest, you aren’t the only one. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) thought she could too.

Unfortunately, what she planned as a day to rehabilitate after a bout with the flu, became a day that drove her up the wall as she was abruptly interrupted not once, but a number of times by phone calls not from well-wishing friends, but from persistent robocalls.

“Every time I dozed off, the phone would ring,” Speier told the LA Times. “And it wasn’t’ a friend calling. It was a robocall.”

Speier was so annoyed of the unwanted calls that it led her to cancel her AT&T landline. But it also hit her that, it shouldn’t have been up to her to have to take such drastic measures to stop the aggravating robocalls. To keep customers happy, she felt it was up to telephone companies to protect their customers from such problematic callers.

Despite individuals registering to the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC), robocalls have figured out how to fly under the radar and weasel their way around the DNC’s regulations and $16,000 fine.

We’ve all experienced Speier’s pain, whether it be during dinner, a tv show, or just when we’re trying to get some peace and quiet, and unfortunately, these calls aren’t just costing us our patience. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who received over 3 million complaints about these types of calls last year, phone users are losing more than $350 million a year to phone scams, which include robocalls.

In response to her restless afternoon, Speier is putting her foot down and attempting to give us all a break. She’s decided to use her governmental leverage to provide people across the nation with uninterrupted moments to themselves.

This past April, Speier introduced the Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones Act, shortened as the ROBOCOP Act. The piece of legislation will “require telecom companies to offer consumers free optional robocall-blocking technology. The legislation is supported by Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America” states a press release from Speier’s office.

“This bill will ensure that phone companies take action and provide consumers with the tools they need to stop being harassed by unwanted calls that ring day and night,” said Tim Marvin, head of the End Robocalls campaign for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

But while we’re crossing our fingers for the ROBOCOP Act to come into full effect, it would still be wise to register your landline and mobile phone number on the DNC list along with downloading the Hiya app for double protection, if you haven’t already. Hiya has automated spam alerts warning you of unfamiliar numbers and if they have a high potential for fraud. This will allow you to screen your calls and prevent unwanted robocalls to ring through and ruin what should be a relaxing day.

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You know it’s a big deal when Republicans and Democrats are coming together to solve a problem. But you won’t be surprised when you hear that the problem is ROBOCALLS!

We’ve all been dealing with this issue as robocalls are no longer just flooding our landlines but have hit our cell phones too. The Federal Trade Commission is expecting to receive 5.2 million complaints about fraudulent robocalls this year alone which is 30% more than 2015.

Read about what lawmakers are doing to find a solution to the growing robocall epidemic from Fortune by clicking the image below:



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Last week, Hiya was invited to attend the Do-Not-Call Law Enforcement Summit in Indiana. The summit was hosted by the nation’s Chief Spam Call prosecutor Greg Zoeller (also know as Indiana Attorney General). More than 50 other states’ AG offices, federal staff of the FCC and various law enforcement bureaus attended as well. For the first time, leading industry representatives of phone spam-blocking solutions were invited to share their real world experiences.

Far Right: Jan Volzke, Hiya Vice President, Data and Reputation Services was invited to attend the Do-Not-Call Law Enforcement Summit in Indiana.
Far Right: Jan Volzke, Hiya Vice President, Data and Reputation Services was invited to attend the Do-Not-Call Law Enforcement Summit in Indiana.

The overwhelming consensus was that we have come a long way in detecting and avoiding unwanted calls. Hiya couldn’t agree more. Just in the United States, Hiya screens more than 400 MM calls and protects consumers from about 20 MM unwanted calls every month. Samsung, the world largest smartphone manufacturer, has integrated Hiya’s Spam Detection in their new Samsung Galaxy S7 device and the majority of T-Mobile US users have access to spam detection as well.

However, more needs to be done to avail such phone spam protection solutions for more consumers. Despite the FCC’s recent decision to officially allow carriers to block unwanted calls on behalf of their subscribers, many of the nation’s top carriers are late in recognizing the urgency in addressing this issue for the sake of protecting their most valuable asset – the telephony network.

Indiana AG Greg Zoeller, Joe Bindbeutel, Chief Counsel of Missouri Consumer Protection division and Bikram Bandy, FTC Chief of the National Do Not Call Program urged both providers and carriers of phone spam protection solutions to come to terms and work together. Solutions from Hiya and other vendors are here, whether integrated into phones, carrier networks or as downloadable apps.

Addressing the state of the industry, Jonathan Mayer, the FTC’s technical expert on this topic, drew an excellent comparison with the rise and defeat of email spam. In comparison with the effectiveness of email spam filtering solutions, carrier’s call blocking offerings today are “over a decade behind”. So it’s time to act.

The pressure is in fact increasing on carriers. After the event’s AG Zoeller’s press conference, I talked to Timothy Marvin, who leads the nation’s largest Anti-Robocall campaign at Consumer Union. Educating carriers about call blocking solutions may soon shift to the next level. CA Congress Woman Jackie Speier introduced the “ROBOCOP” act, which would require carriers to offer such solutions free-of-charge.

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