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EDITORIAL: Good news on those calls about warranties

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It's hard to find anyone unfamiliar with the cellphone robocalls pitching vehicle warranties.

The message is about an expiring warranty and comes to people whether they have a warranty or not.

During the call, you may be instructed to press a certain number or stay on the line, then asked to provide personal information, which potentially can be used to defraud you.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, what makes it particularly hard to discern if the all is fraudulent is that the scammer may have specific information about your particular car and warranty that they use to deceive you into thinking they are a legitimate caller.

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Good news: U.S. telecom providers will now be required to block millions of these illegal robocalls a day per an FCC order taking aim at a group of individuals accused of sending more than 8 billion such messages since 2018.

The order by the FCC requires voice providers to stop carrying calls the agency has linked to 13 individuals and six companies, mostly based in Texas and California but also in such far-flung places as Hungary.

According to a CNN report, such calls represented the single largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC in each of the past two years, adding up to thousands of complaints a year.

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As part of its scheme, the group bought access to nearly half a million phone numbers from more than 200 area codes in the fall and winter of 2020, the FCC said, and then used them to make it appear to recipients that the robocalls were coming from local numbers.

The group is still sending out millions of illegal calls every day, the FCC said.

With few exceptions, automated calls made without the recipient's consent are illegal under US law.

In light of the order, telecom companies that continue to carry the illegal calls may be held liable themselves, the FCC said.

So the next time you hear, "We've been trying to reach you concerning your car's extended warranty," know the FCC is at least on the job trying to stop the calls.

But let's make another point: Vehicle warranties have gotten an undeserved bad name via the robocalls.

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Modern cars deliver higher levels of comfort, fuel economy, safety and connectivity than ever before. But increased technological capability brings with it a high level of complexity that can result in costly repairs when things go wrong.

Some of the costs for different claims from customers include electrical and electronic systems, with an estimated average claim cost of over $1,000; cooling system claims averaging around $1,400; air-conditioning systems claims averaging around $1,900; engine claims averaging over $2,500; while transmission claims averaged $6,300.

Opting for warranty coverage makes sense for some drivers as they would struggle to cover such huge costs when the unexpected happens. So if a car has run out of its manufacturer's warranty, you may want to consider extended coverage -- but not via a robocaller.

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