U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, the Senate has passed landmark legislation, 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 are getting worse by the day in New York State, with a staggering 290 million reported this year alone. Schumer explained that the TRACED Act, once signed into law, will be a new arrow in New York’s quiver to combat the rampage of robocalls throughout the state.
“I’ve been beating the drum on the plague of robocalls for years now, because there’s very little more annoying to New Yorkers than being woken up in the dead of night by automated calls trying to scam them out of their hard-earned money. Today, the Senate has taken a major step forward in this fight by passing the TRACED Act,” said Senator Schumer. “The TRACED Act, at long last, will arm the feds with new tools and authority to trace, prosecute and enforce fines against robocall scammers, as well as set new call authentication requirements designed to filter out robocalls—especially the ones abroad—before they reach the phones of unsuspecting New Yorkers. The TRACED Act is just what we need to hang up on these nonstop robocalls, and the House of Representatives should follow the Senate’s lead and pass it ASAP.”
To hang up on these deceitful robocalls, Schumer will be calling on the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and 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.
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.
·In the 518 area code, there have been over 49.6 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 315 area code, there have been over 59.1 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 680 area code, there have been over 74.4 thousand robocalls in 2019
·In the 845 area code, there have been over 60.5 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 914 area code, there have been over 56.8 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 585 area code, there have been over 54.8 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 607 area code, there have been over 30.4 million robocalls in 2019
·In the 716 area code, there have been over 152.8 million robocalls in 2019
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.
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.
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.