Joint Press

Aging Committee Leaders Collins and Casey Urge FCC to Support Proposed Rule to Limit Robocalls

According to the FCC, Americans—especially seniors—receive an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls each month

*Click HERE to read the signed letter*

Washington, D.C. — In a letter to the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Robert Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, urged support for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that would limit robocalls and help protect against caller ID spoofing.

In their letter to the Commissioners, the senators explained their concerns about robocalls and advancing technologies, writing that the Senate Aging Committee, “has long been concerned about the use of robocalls by scammers to disrupt, annoy, and harass all Americans — especially seniors. Unfortunately, in recent years, advances in technology have made it easier and cheaper for unscrupulous actors to place a virtually limitless number of robocalls, thus increasing the probability of reaching potential victims.”

The IRS impersonation scam is a well-known example of a fraudulent scheme that relies on robocalls to contact victims. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), more than 10,000 Americans have been defrauded through this scam at a cost of an estimated $54 million. It was also the most common scam reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470) with 1,680 complaints and was the topic of a hearing held by the Committee last April. Despite a concerted effort on multiple fronts to educate the public about this scam and pursue the criminals behind it, this scheme remains prevalent.

The Senators called for more action from the FCC noting that, “In a 2015 ruling, which we supported, the Commission made clear that voice service providers can offer call blocking tools to customers without violating these rules. Despite this positive step, however, the Commissioners said at the time that more needed to be done about caller ID spoofing. Now, almost two years later, the Commission must once again act to help protect our nation’s most vulnerable population.”

The proposal by the FCC would adopt rules to protect consumers from robocalls by allowing telecom providers to block spoofed phone numbers, eliminating the possibility of unused numbers appearing on caller IDs, and seeking strategies to prevent spoofing from international phone numbers, a common safe haven for scammers targeting older Americans.

A top priority of the Senate Aging Committee is to combat fraud targeting older Americans. According to the Government Accountability Office, seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion a year to financial exploitation through a variety of schemes, including phone scams. Last month, the Committee held a hearing to update the public on the efforts of law enforcement fighting these crimes and released its Fraud Book 2017.