In the News Something can and is being done about robocalls: Ajit Pai and Rep. Bob Latta (Opinion)


WASHINGTON, DC – In 2018, two numbers stand out from robocalls: 47.8 and 37 billion. 47.8 billion is the estimated number of robocalls from last year and $37 billion is dollar amount senior citizens were scammed from schemes such as robocalls.

Congress is working to end these illegal robocalls that are irritating Americans, swamping our vital communications – like Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa’s phone lines – and scamming our seniors.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act recently passed the House and was sent to the Senate for consideration. Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai penned an op-ed on that includes additional efforts to curb robocalls such as the RAY BAUM’S Act and new FCC rules.

Something can and is being done about robocalls: Ajit Pai and Rep. Bob Latta (Opinion)
By: Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

WASHINGTON, D.C. — We’ve all been there. It usually happens at the most inconvenient times — during family dinners, commutes, or work. We see a familiar area code and try to remember if we were expecting a call. We answer politely, only to find that instead of a friend or neighbor, it’s an audio recording promising you a free trip to the Bahamas, warning you that there’s an issue with your student loans, or threatening to sic the IRS on you over incomplete paperwork. This is what’s called an illegally “spoofed” robocall — where the caller ID is manipulated to trick you into answering.

At a minimum, these robocalls and others like them are a disruptive nuisance. At worst, vulnerable people fall prey to scams. For example, in 2018 alone, America’s seniors were scammed out of $37 billion, according to Bloomberg News — that’s right, billion with a ”b” — in large part due to robocalls and other fraudulent activity.

If it seems like you’re getting a lot of illegal robocalls, it’s not your imagination. The Federal Communications Commission receives thousands of informal consumer complaints about unwanted calls, including robocalls and telemarketing calls. Complaints about unwanted calls are far and away the top complaint category received by the FCC each year, totaling more than 60 percent of the consumer complaints received. By one company’s estimation, 44.6 percent of calls to mobile phones will be scam calls in 2019.

Here’s one example of how we’re working together: Earlier this year, Congressman Latta introduced legislation that encourages phone companies to automatically block unwanted robocalls. And in June, the FCC picked up the baton and voted to allow phone companies to block illegal and unwanted robocalls from reaching consumers by default. This action empowers providers to protect their customers from unwanted robocalls before those calls even reach the customers’ phones.

Or consider this: Last year, Congress passed RAY BAUM’S Act, which authorized the FCC to pursue enforcement cases against international scammers and scammers that spoof Caller ID in text messages. And this month, the FCC adopted new rules building on this legislation to ban malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and foreign robocalls — and closed a loophole that has all too often benefited international fraudsters.

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