The scammers know that most of us are working from home and are trying to use this to their advantage. The robocalls have increased, and telemarketers are calling more frequently, but with a new twist—preying on fears of consumers about coronavirus.

I am on the Do-Not-Call list, yet I am still getting many unwanted robocalls. It gets to the point where you don’t answer your phone at all.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is trying to help, and this week issued letters to nine Voice over Internet Protocol (VolP) service providers and other companies “warning them that ‘assisting and facilitating’ illegal telemarketing or robocalls related to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic is against the law. Many of these calls prey upon consumers’ fear of the virus to perpetrate scams or sow disinformation.” 

The letters warn them that if they facilitate scams or disinformation, the FTC may take enforcement action against them. The conduct the FTC advised the companies may violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule includes:

  • making a false or misleading statement to induce a consumer to buy something or contribute to a charity;
  • misrepresenting a seller or telemarketer’s affiliation with any government agency;
  • transmitting false or deceptive caller ID numbers;
  • initiating pre-recorded telemarketing robocalls, unless the seller has express written permission to call; and
  • initiating telemarketing calls to consumers whose phone numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry, with certain exceptions.

Be aware of scammers and telemarketers trying to prey on our fear surrounding the coronavirus, and screen your calls. If the call is legitimate, the caller will usually leave a message and you can call them back if you choose. Remember to never give your personal information or financial information to anyone over the phone.