The partial federal government shutdown has brought some phone scammers out of the woodwork. Pillsbury Communications Attorney Scott Flick cautions stations in a blog post that scammers are apparently calling broadcasters to deceive them. The callers pretend to be with the Commission and demand “FCC fees” over the phone.
With the FCC largely closed at this point, the callers assume it would be difficult for a broadcaster to ascertain whether the station owes the agency money, or to confirm the caller is really with the Commission, because the agency is operating only at a bare-bones “protecting life and property” level.
“While it could certainly use the money given the current absence of congressional funding, it is not seeking to collect it from broadcasters, and certainly not over the telephone,” writes Flick.
He cautions broadcasters if they receive a call from someone claiming to call on behalf of the Commission and demanding money, be skeptical, especially if the individual wants to be paid in gift cards, which he calls “the preferred payment method of phone scammers.”
The FCC is really more of a check and credit card operation, and has very complex systems for processing those forms of payment, according to the Pillsbury attorney. The agency, “will not allow you to pay your regulatory fees with gift cards, and certainly doesn’t do it over the telephone,” he notes. Those who do receive such a call may report it to the Federal Trade Commission once the federal government re-opens.
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January 9, 2019