Robocalls continue to be a scourge for New Yorkers, with millions of callers being flooded by calls “at all hours of the day and night.”
In April, New Yorkers received 290.3 million robocalls, which is an average of 112 calls per second and 11 calls per New Yorker.
In April, there were 176 million robocalls made to numbers in New York City and Long Island, and there have been more than 720 million robocalls reported since the year started, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.
In response, Schumer is backing legislation that would give federal investigators the tools to trace, prosecute and fine robocall scammers.
“Robocalls – at all hours of the day and night – and ‘spoofing’ scams annoy and rip-off countless New Yorkers and Long Islanders, and the TRACED Act will finally arm federal agencies with new tools and authority to trace, prosecute, and enforce fines against robocall scammers,” he said. “It will also set new call authentication requirements designed to filter out robocalls--especially the ones abroad--before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers.”
Schumer noted that, despite the existing “Do Not Call” registry, robocalls remain a serious problem across the country, making 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.”
The robocall schemes have been a problem nationwide for months. According to Schumer, Americans received 4.9 billion robocalls in March, a new record total for the number 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.
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, unwanted and illegal robocalls are the FTC’s number-one complaint category, with more than 3.7 million complaints filed in 2018.”
According to Schumer, the TRACED Act would combat robocalls by:
- Giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to fine robocall scheme perpetrators $10,000 per call made.
- Increasing the timeframe under which the FCC could find and prosecute robocall schemes from one to three years after a call is placed.
- 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.
- Requiring telecommunications companies to implement effective call authentication technology, which could help stop robocalls before they reach the phones of unsuspecting victims.
Earlier this year, New York Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, and consumer advocates announced the Robocall Prevention Act in Albany on Tuesday, following a record number of unwanted calls that were made in 2018.
According to officials, “spoofing” allows scammers to disguise their identities, making it difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice.
“Technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever for scammers to spoof caller-ID information and initiate an auto-dialed call that imitates the number of a trusted party, such as your doctor,” Hoylman and Niou wrote in a special for Crain’s New York.
“Existing federal regulations aren’t equipped to handle this massive influx of calls. For instance, although federal law prohibits all auto-dialed or pre-recorded calls to cell phones without consent, it provides little protection for landlines, allowing auto-dialed calls to relentlessly target Americans in their homes.”
“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” a coalition of Attorneys General wrote in the comments filed in a complaint with the FCC last year.
“When the federal government fails to protect our citizens from this outrageous harassment, New York must take action,” Hoylman and Niou stated. “This is common sense. It’s time for Albany to act, and ban robocalls without consent—so that we can finally be free of unwanted calls.”
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