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On Top Of The +59M Robocalls Made To Syracuse So Far This Year, Last Week, CNY-ers Were Inundated With Calls Appearing To Come From Overseas; Residents Duped Into Calling Back Paid Exorbitant International Fees

Schumer Announces New Legislation, TRACED Act, Giving Feds Authority To Combat Costly Schemes, Require Call Authentication & Rid Consumers Of Dreaded Robocalls

Schumer: It’s Time To Hang Up Robocalls Once & For All

Standing at the James M. Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse, and in the wake of costly telephone-based scams rearing their ugly head across Central New York last week, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to pass the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The TRACED Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and John Thune (R-SD) and cosponsored by Schumer, would give federal agencies newfound tools and authority to trace, prosecute, and enforce fines against robocall scammers, as well as establish new requirements related to call authentication technology that could filter out robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers. According to Schumer, despite federal ‘Do Not Call’ rules, robocalls and unwanted spam calls are getting worse by the day in Syracuse, with a staggering 15 million reported in April of this year alone.

"Robocalls – at all hours of the day and night – and ‘spoofing’ scams annoy and rip-off countless Central New Yorkers, and the TRACED Act will arm federal agencies with new tools and authority to trace, prosecute, and enforce fines against robocall scammers. It will also set new call authentication requirements designed to filter out robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers,” said Senator Schumer. “Despite the existing ‘Do Not Call’ registry, robocalls remain a serious problem across the country, making these harassing calls nearly unavoidable. It’s a plague that we’ve got to cure—whether it’s the landline or cell phone, no one should be woken up in the dead of night by multiple robocalls. Fortunately, the TRACED Act is just the antidote we need, which is why I’m urging Congress to pass this landmark legislation ASAP to give the feds new powers to track, prosecute and fine these nasty robocall scammers and bolster caller identification technology across the nation.”

Americans received 5.23 billion robocalls this March – a new record total for the number of calls made in one month. 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. Additional data shows that in April of this year, New Yorkers received 290.3 million robocalls, which averaged over 112 calls per second and 11 calls per New Yorker. Locally, Syracuse residents have been inundated with robocalls this year, receiving more than 60 million in the first four months of this year. In April, residents received 14.96 million calls; in March, residents received 15.06 million calls; in February, residents received 14.49 million calls; and in January, residents received 14.58 million calls. Schumer said the federal government must do everything possible to make sure robocalls stop increasing year after year. Despite federal ‘Do Not Call’ rules, scammers have developed more creative ways to go around the system, meaning, hundreds of thousands of individuals continue to receive unwanted spam calls. 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.

Therefore, to hang up on these deceitful robocalls, Schumer called on his colleagues in Congress to expediently vote on and pass the TRACED Act. The TRACED Act would work to combat robocalls through four major avenues. First, the legislation would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to fine robocall scheme perpetrators $10,000 per call made. Second, the TRACED Act would increase the timeframe under which the FCC could find and prosecute robocall schemes from one to three years after a call is placed. Third, the TRACED Act would require 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. And fourth, the legislation would also require telecommunications companies to implement call authentication technology, which could help stop robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims. Specifically, this 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 Federal Trade Commission, 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 TRACED Act 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.