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More Jaw Dropping, Since Jan 1 Rochester Has Been Hit With Over 54 Million Robocalls; Even In The Dark Of Night, Upstate NY’ers Are Inundated With Calls Appearing To Come From Overseas; To Boot, Victims Duped Into Calling Back Are Charged Exorbitant International Fees

Schumer Announces New, Best Chance, Bipartisan Legislation—The ‘TRACED Act’; Law Would Give Feds Real Authority To Combat Costly Schemes & Require Call Authentication To Rid Consumers Of Dreaded Robocalls But It Needs To Get To Senate Floor

Schumer: It’s Time To Cut The Line On Robocallers Who Just Won’t Hang Up –This Plan Can Help Answer The Call

While revealing new jaw-dropping numbers of Rochester robocalls in the past month and since January 1st at Lifespan, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is rallying for a new and best chance plan to finally kill these annoying and hair-pulling calls, many of which come in the middle of the night from overseas. Schumer is launching a major, bipartisan 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 now cosponsored by Schumer, would give federal agencies the tools and authority they desperately need 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 Rochester-area residents.

“Robocalls – at all hours of the day and night – and ‘spoofing’ scams annoy and rip-off countless Rochester residents, and the TRACED Act will finally 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--especially the ones abroad--before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims in the region,” 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 will be 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.”

Schumer says, despite federal ‘Do Not Call’ rules, robocalls and unwanted spam calls are getting worse by the day in Rochester, with a staggering 13.83 million reported in April of this year alone. Schumer explained the legislation and the bipartisan plan to get this on the floor of the Senate ASAP in an all-out push to kill the calls that just won’t stop.

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, Rochester residents have been inundated with robocalls this year, receiving more than 54 million in the first four months of this year. In April, residents received over 13.83 million calls; in March, residents received over 14.33 million calls; in February, residents received over 12.72 million calls; and in January, residents received over 13.99 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.

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 Congress to expediently vote on and pass the TRACED Act. 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 Monroe County residents impacted by robocalls, Lifespan officials who help local seniors scammed or subjected to robocalls, as well as local law enforcement officials including Fairport Police Chief Samuel Farina. Schumer explained spoof robocall scams have become so out of control that last month, scammers brazenly spoofed the Fairport Police Department’s own number to call and scam unsuspecting residents last month. The scammer identified themselves as the Fairport Police requesting money for a family member who they said was in police custody. The caller ID was spoofed to be the Fairport Police Department administrative number.

At Lifespan, Elder Abuse Prevention officials reported a month ago about a new Social Security scam robocall targeting Rochester Finger Lakes Region residents.  The call appears to originate from a variety of phone numbers and claims to be from the Social Security Department, and tells the listener that their Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity, instructing them to press 1 to be connected with a representative.

Art Mason, Director of Lifespan’s Elder Abuse Prevention program said, “At Lifespan we are on the front lines hearing constantly from Finger Lakes residents who are being barraged with robocalls or worse, falling victim to their scams. We work to educate older adults to recognize and avoid these scam calls. But victims are hard-pressed to keep up with these scams as the calls become more sophisticated by masking their caller ID or camouflaging their ID to appear as a local call originating within the 585 area code. We applaud Senator Schumer’s advocacy to help stop these calls in the first place.”

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 was joined by Lifespan officials including Art Mason - Director of Lifespan’s Elder Abuse Prevention program, Jody Rowe - COO, Paul CaccamiseVice President, Leita King - Anti-scams Coordinator, Karin Nowicki - Social Worker, as well as Brighton Town Police Chief Mark Henderson, Fairport Village Police Chief Samuel Farina, Rochester area residents frustrated by robocalls, and local officials including Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle and Fairport Mayor Julie Domaratz.

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.