07.03.19

FOLLOWING RECENT FLOOD OF ROBOCALLS THAT WOKE UP THOUSANDS OF UPSTATE NY’ERS IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, SCHUMER URGES HOUSE TO PASS ROBOCALL LEGISLATION TO PROTECT SOUTHERN TIER IDENTITIES, WALLETS AND CURB ROBOCALLS

On Top Of The +284M Robocalls Made To New York In May, NY-ers Were Also Inundated With Calls Appearing To Come From Overseas; Residents Duped Into Calling Back Paid Exorbitant International Fees

Schumer Urges The House Of Representatives To Follow Senate’s Lead And Pass Comprehensive Robocall Legislation, Giving Feds Authority To Combat Costly Schemes, Require Call Authentication & Rid Consumers Of Dreaded Robocalls

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

Standing at the Corning Senior Citizens Center, and in the wake of costly telephone-based scams rearing their ugly heads across Upstate New York for the past months, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive robocall legislation as soon as possible. This push comes on the heels of recent Senate action on the TRACED Act, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and John Thune (R-SD) and cosponsored by Schumer. The TRACED Act, which passed the Senate by a 97 -1 vote, 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 New York, with a staggering 284.4 million reported in May of this year alone. Schumer explained that the Senate passed robocall legislation in May and called on the House of Representatives to follow suit. 

“Robocalls—at all hours of the day and night—and ‘spoofing’ scams annoy and rip-off countless Southern Tier residents. The TRACED Act, passed by the Senate in May, would finally arm federal agencies with new tools and authority to trace, prosecute, and enforce fines against robocall scammers. It would also set new call authentication requirements designed to filter out robocalls—especially the ones abroad—before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims in the region. These are the sort of policies we need to stop robocalls dead in their tracks,” said Senator Schumer. “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 sort of antidote we need, which is why I am calling on the House to follow the Senate’s lead, and use this landmark legislation as a blueprint to pass their own comprehensive robocall legislation.”

Schumer says, despite federal ‘Do Not Call’ rules, robocalls and unwanted spam calls are getting worse by the day in Steuben County, with a staggering 7.1 million reported in June of this year alone in the 607 area code.

Americans received 4.9 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, Southern Tier residents have been inundated with robocalls this year, receiving more than 44.9 million in the first six months of this year. In May, residents received over 7.3 million calls; in April, residents received over 7.93 million calls; in March, residents received over 7.95 million calls; in February, residents received over 7 million calls; and in January, residents received over 7.56 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.

To hang up on these deceitful robocalls, Schumer will be calling on his colleagues in the House of Representatives to expediently vote on and pass comprehensive robocall stanching legislation similar to the TRACED Act. As a blueprint for the House, the 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.

**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.

Schumer was joined by Bill Boland, Mayor of the City of Corning, Alex Hamilton, Director of the Corning Department of Parks and Recreation, Patricia Baroody, Director of the Steuben County Office of Aging, Kathy Burns, Steuben County Office of Aging RSVP Project Care Coordinator and Lynette McNally, Steuben County Office of Aging Case Manager Supervisor.

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 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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