Stopping robocalls just became a bit easier with President Trump’s signing of the Traced Act into law to help stop scammers.
The bi-partisan Act reportedly increases the penalties for scammers who knowingly make illegal robocalls and provides U.S. regulatory bodies with four years to pursue the criminals. In the past, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been limited to a one-year statute of limitations to hold scammers responsible.
The Traced Act also requires phone companies to authenticate incoming calls to ensure the number calling you is not spoofed. Spoofing is when a phone number appears on caller ID, but is not actually the originating number of that call.
The legislation was authored by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
“I applaud Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to combat illegal robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing. And I thank the President and Congress for the additional tools and flexibility that this law affords us,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a released statement.
Keloland.com reported that penalties of $10,000 per phone call can now be imposed upon companies making illegal calls.
Jessie Schmidt, South Dakota Director of the Better Business Bureau, told Keloland.com the Traced Act “gives more teeth to the FCC and to law enforcement to prosecute overseas scammers.”
Major wireless carriers and home telephone providers have been helping fight spam calls by participating in SHAKEN/STIR with the FCC since the beginning of 2019.
SHAKEN/STIR stands for Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENS (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards.
The FCC’s website says, “This means that calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would 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.”
The SHAKEN/STIR framework of interconnected standards is intended to help prevent consumers from being tricked into answering their phones when a robocall is made by a scammer. A call that originates overseas but appears to be from a local area code is much more apt to be answered by an unwary consumer, and scammers have known that and taken advantage of that fact for years.
Stopping robocalls is a priority for the FCC, which receives hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints each year.
According to an analysis of data from the FTC and YouMail by LetsTalk.com, consumers in Maryland received the most robocalls in 2019, leading the way with 18 per month. Nevada residents were the second-most-bothered, followed by consumers in Colorado, Delaware and New Jersey.
YouMail reported that up to 75 billion robocalls were placed in 2019, compared to 47 billion in 2018. Scammers used robocalling more often than in previous years, too. At least 45 percent of all robocalls were from scammers in 2019. Just three years earlier, scammers were responsible for just over 17 percent of all robocalls.
Telemarketers made about 11 percent of all robocalls in 2019. Alerts and reminders made up almost 23 percent and payment reminders were responsible for about 20 percent.
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If you were contacted on your cell phone by a company via an unsolicited text message (text spam) or prerecorded voice message (robocall), you may be eligible for compensation under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
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