A local dispatch center is dealing with a major issue-they’re getting robocalls. An already high stress job made more difficult by scammers.
“All these radios going, the phone calls are coming in about the fire, what have you, and all of a sudden, in the middle of this, you get a sales pitch,” says Brian Craig, sheriff of Floyd County.
It’s a daily occurence for the Floyd County dispatch center. Robocalls coming in on both emergency and non-emergency lines. Two came in within the hour. But daily, the number is much higher.
“It can average anywhere from 8 to 10, to 20 to 25,” says Melinda Vest, communications director for Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.
Depending on the day’s call volume, that can be as many as one in five calls.
“What they don’t need is doubling, tripling, quadrupling whatever the number may be of having these lines and these phone calls coming in,” says Craig.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a report last month and the issue of illegal robocalls could get worse, before it gets better since they may increase. The report also mentions at least two cases in which illegal robocalls disrupted an emergency medical paging service. The FCC took enforcement action in those cases.
“It’s a concern because we could be on a 911 true emergency call and get the robocalls or the spoofing calls and it will take the dispatcher away from a true emergency,” says Vest.
The office is on a do not call list, but still receives the robocalls.
“The biggest thing would be for these phone companies to figure out how to block these calls from coming in, especially when it comes to emergency services. Things of that nature,” says Craig.
When dispatchers receive calls, they do their best to opt out or notify the caller that they’ve reached a dispatch center.
“It can be people being very polite and disconnecting. They can argue with us. They’ve even cussed us before,” says Vest.
WFXR reached out to the FCC for comment. The FCC advised consumers to check here for tips. WFXR asked what steps the FCC is taking in regards to robocalls to dispatch centers. We will update this story with the response.