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McCaskill Drafting Legislation to Crack Down on Fraudulent Robocalls

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (KAN.)

McCaskill Drafting Legislation to Crack Down on Fraudulent Robocalls

Facing inadequate action from telecom companies, Senator vows to give regulators tools to better protect American consumers

WASHINGTON – Faced with inadequate action by the telecom industry, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is drafting legislation that would provide regulators with additional tools to help protect consumers from robocall scams.

Earlier this year, McCaskill chaired a Senate hearing to examine how fraudulent robocalls are harming consumers, and called on U.S. telephone providers to explore implementing technological solutions to reduce robocalls received by American consumers. Following the hearing, McCaskill sent a letter to top telecom associations asking them to evaluate the feasibility of implementing technological solutions that would combat these types of scams. Industry leaders responded to the letter, but McCaskill noted disappointment in the companies’ lack of interest in exploring innovative solutions to reduce the number of robocalls received by consumers.

“While some legitimate questions still exist around the technologies that would help prevent these scams, it’s clear that the industry does not intend to pursue such technologies or other solutions to quickly address the issue of fraudulent robocalls—a problem that has plagued consumers for years,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “In the face of their inadequate approach, I will start drafting legislation to provide regulators with a robust set of tools to fight these fraudsters and start gaining back ground for American consumers against robocallers.”

McCaskill, a tech leader in the Senate, highlighted at her Senate hearing that technologies to curb fraudulent robocalls are already being developed and at least one phone company in Canada already offers such a service free to its customers.

McCaskill acknowledged that both the United States Telecom Association and CTIA-The Wireless Association indicated in their responses that the industry is working on technologies to prevent caller ID spoofing, a practice that has helped fraudulent robocalls proliferate, but expressed concerns that such technologies remain unproven and are still years from universal implementation. She has urged both trade associations to continue talking with their member companies about tools that can be made available to consumers today to help reduce the fraud and annoyance associated with unwanted robocalls.

Although the popular Do Not Call Registry was established ten years ago, robocalls still rank as a top consumer complaint received by government agencies, comprising the largest volume of complaints to the Missouri Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FTC alone receives over 200,000 complaints about robocalls per month, constituting the single largest type of complaint in terms of raw numbers. The FCC, meanwhile, has seen complaints about robocalls double between 2010 and 2012.

The Justice Department has estimated that consumers lose over $40 billion a year to fraudulent telemarketers.

A copy of McCaskill’s letter to the United States Telecom Association and CTIA-The Wireless Association, representing wireline and wireless telephone services providers respectively, can be found on her website, HERE, responses available HERE and HERE.

Read more about McCaskill’s fight to protect American consumers, HERE

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