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April 24, 2020

Protecting Consumers through COVID-19 .

Protecting Consumers through COVID-19

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Sarah Leggin
Director, Regulatory Affairs

 

The wireless industry is working hard to protect consumers from scammers every day. Bad actors notoriously try to capitalize on disasters and crises, using times of uncertainty to target vulnerable Americans. COVID-19 is no different. We’ve seen a shift toward virus-related hoaxes, scams and phishing attempts.

Keeping Americans connected and protected during this crisis are our top priorities, and we have been diligently working to safeguard consumers while ensuring that legitimate communications go through.

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Whether it’s selling fake flood insurance after a hurricane or requesting personal account details during tax season, bad actors often use robocalls, texts and emails to make contact with potential victims. Every day, the wireless industry collectively blocks millions of these attempts, and companies offer robocall mitigation tools, device functionalities and third-party apps that block, label or filter unwanted and illegal communications.

Protecting Consumers.

CTIA and its member companies are stepping up efforts to educate consumers about COVID-19-related scams. We’re also providing them with tips for how to protect themselves as well as educating them about the range of tools and actions available to stay safe while staying connected.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, U.S. Cellular and many other providers have launched new services and websites that offer even more tools to fight COVID-19-related scams. These targeted solutions, free services and important tips help wireless providers and consumers step up their defenses.

The FCC and other federal agencies, including the FTC and DHS, are also a key part of this fight and we applaud their efforts. For example, CTIA’s member companies are working with the FCC and law enforcement to trace bad actors to the source. Thanks to these joint traceback efforts and aggressive action by the FCC and FTC, wireless providers report that scam COVID-19 traffic from certain suspected providers has decreased markedly. By one account, that action helped reduce the overall number of robocalls significantly. It is a great reminder of the importance of aggressive government enforcement to help stop illegal robocalls.

Keeping Consumers Informed.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s vital for us to stay informed about time-sensitive health and safety information. U.S. wireless providers are working closely with the FCC to keep Americans connected and are collaborating with consumer protection, health and security agencies to help verify legitimate phone and text campaigns and make sure consumers receive those important messages. Providers are also focused on supporting the large volume of legitimate COVID-19-related messaging campaigns from other senders—school districts, pharmacies and more—and making sure those communications reach consumers.

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During this unprecedented time, we are continuing to work around the clock to thwart bad actors, while stepping up efforts to make sure consumers receive the vital, legitimate COVID-19-related information they need to stay safe.

Keeping Us Connected Through COVID-19

Learn how the Wireless Industry is working to keep us connected.

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