06.21.19

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 WESTCHESTER AND ROCKLAND COUNTY IDENTITIES, WALLETS AND CURB ROBOCALLS

On Top Of The +284M Robocalls Made To New York In May, NY-ers Were Inundated With Calls Appearing To Come From Overseas Last Month; 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 Hugh Doyle Senior Center, and in the wake of costly telephone-based scams rearing their ugly head across Upstate New York last month, 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 Hudson Valley residents. The TRACED Act, passed by the Senate last month, 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 Westchester and Rockland Counties, with a staggering 12.68 million reported in April of this year alone in the 914 area code, and another 14.59 reported in the 845 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. 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.

Additionally, a chart appears below showing robocalls received by multiple Westchester and Rockland County area codes so far this year by month.

Area Code

January

February

March

April

May

2019

914

15.94M

14.03M

13.88M

12.95M

12.68M

69.50M

347

48.58M

45.17M

49.00M

42.33M

41.07M

226.17M

845

16.87M

14.55M

14.99M

14.12M

14.59M

75.13M

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 Noah Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle, and Diane Luftig, Reverend Dierdra Clark, and Roberta Dinertsein, local residents grappling with the plague of robocalls.

“The people of New Rochelle and every other community are fed up with the non-stop, obnoxious and even criminal robocalls they receive. The flood of unwanted calls is more than just annoying — many of these calls are outright frauds, swindling our seniors and other residents out of hard-earned savings. I thank Senator Schumer for his strong commitment to solving this problem and look forward to supporting his efforts at the local level,” said Noam Bramson, Mayor, New Rochelle.

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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