POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Menendez pushes for crackdown on robocalls

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

If you’ve ever received a “scam likely” call, you’re not alone. The pesky calls are known as robocalls and they’re becoming an epidemic. Some say it’s harassment.

“I get at least a dozen to 20 calls a day and I have to stop every time because I’m thinking it’s one of my clients calling from the building,” said robocall victim Frank Ambrosio.

In the month of March alone, telemarketers and robocallers placed 5.2 billion illegal calls nationwide, including more than 134 million in New Jersey. That’s 13 calls per person on average, according to Youmail’s Robocall Index.

“I love the one where they call me up and tell that my Microsoft, Windows, Word or whatever is in jeopardy considering that my computer runs on Linux,” said Kit Turner, another robocall victim.

“These robocallers care about one thing: ripping you off,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

Despite there being a federal Do Not Call Registry, Menendez says more needs to be done to crackdown on phone scammers. Menendez is now pushing Congress to pass a Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or TRACED. The bipartisan bill would help catch, prosecute and punish robocallers who make a living ripping off consumers.

“Three key elements to scourge robocalls. Number one is authentication. As I said, our legislation requires phone companies to adopt the necessary technology to verify the legitimacy of calls before our phones even start ringing. Secondly, the bill dramatically ramps up enforcement. We lift the statute of limitations from one to three years so that investigators at the FCC have more time to catch illegal robocallers. And finally when these illegal robocallers do get caught, they’re going to face a fine of up to $10,000 per call,” said Menendez.

Menendez believes phone companies haven’t put a stop to the robocalls because it could hurt business. He says if the legislation passes then companies would be required to report where the call is coming from and its authentication.