Schumer rails against robocalls and demands a federal ban

Schumer: “Americans Are Desperate For A ‘Silent Night’ Free Of Robocalls This Holiday Season & Beyond”

Announcing that new federal legislation to finally help put an end to those hair-pulling robocalls is on the brink of being signed into law, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that in the month of November alone, the average New York City resident and the average Long Islander, were inundated with around 9 robos a day, more than 164 million calls all together.

That’s more than 150 million calls across the city and almost 14 million on Long Island in just a single month, and Schumer lamented as the holidays approach, a spike could come.

“From every corner of New York there is one thing everyone can agree upon, and that is the enduring hope that the robocalls stop,” Schumer said. “Americans are desperate for a ‘silent night’ free of robocalls this holiday season and beyond and it looks like, if the Senate acts, they’ll get their wish.”

Schumer announced that as the year ends, he is working on a deal that would deliver a Senate vote for the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. Schumer said this compromise bill, which is based on legislation that passed the House and Senate earlier this year, has just passed the House in a sweeping, bipartisan vote of 417-3 and that it can become law if the Senate acts.

Schumer explained why the TRACED Act works as he made the case for an ASAP vote, citing this holiday season as the time to give Americans—and New Yorkers—the silent night(s) they deserve.

Earlier this year, YouMail reported that 47.7 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in 2018, a 57 percent increase over the number of calls made the year prior.

“It’s eye-popping, it’s annoying, and it’s got to stop,” added Schumer.“And I am going to work hard to dial-up a vote to kill these robocalls in the Senate before the year ends, so we don’t have to start all over again in the New Year.”  

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), unwanted and illegal robocalls are the FTC’s number-one complaint category, with more than 3.7 million complaints filed in 2018.

To hang up on these deceitful robocalls, Schumer is calling for the Senate to expediently vote on and pass the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act. The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act would work to combat robocalls by:

  1. Giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to fine robocall scheme perpetrators $10,000 per call made.
  2. Increasing the timeframe under which the FCC could find and prosecute robocall schemes from one to three years after a call is placed.
  3. Requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ), FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other agencies and state officials to issue recommendations to Congress on how to further bolster methods to combat robocalls.
  4. Requiring telecommunications companies to implement effective call authentication technology, which could help stop robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims.
  5. Requiring opt-in/opt-out robocall blocking to be available in a consistent and transparent way, at no extra charge to consumers.
  6. Providing greater resources to prevent one-ring scams.
  7. Bolstering the FCC’s ability to trace phone companies responsible for sending the vast amount of spoofed calls
  8. Protecting hospitals from unlawful robocalls.

This legislation would require companies to implement Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards. This means that calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. SHAKEN/STIR digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person making it.

Robocalls are phone calls that use automated dialing machines to play a pre-recorded message. According to the FTC, 99 percent of robocalls are illegitimate or fraudulent.

Illegal robocalls are made by companies or individuals trying to scam the person on the other end of the phone. Many times, these calls are placed using “caller id spoofing.” Individuals that resort to “caller id spoofing” use advanced technology to mimic the caller id of a legitimate entity such as a government agency, credit card company, a bank, or even a next door neighbor. Under the “Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009,” robocalls are illegal if used for the purpose of defrauding or otherwise causing harm.

However, despite the fact that many of these calls clearly violate the law, it is difficult, if not impossible, to catch the perpetrators, many of whom are overseas or hiding behind fake numbers.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, which is based on legislation introduced by Senators Thune and Markey and which passed the Senate earlier this year, will give the feds more time to track down these scammers.

The National “Do-Not-Call” Registry, managed by the FTC, was implemented in 2003 after the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003. The registry is designed to give people a choice about whether they would like to receive telemarketing calls at home. It was created to limit the number of telemarketing calls and robocalls made to U.S. households. In order to register, one may log onto the “Do-Not-Call” website and their phone number will be permanently placed in the registry.

Schumer has long supported efforts to crack down on robocalls. For instance, Schumer has supported federal legislation that would drastically increase punishments for telemarketing companies that continue to make robocalls, as well as pushed for legislation to require landline and mobile carriers to offer free robocall-blocking technology to all consumers.

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