Those annoying robocalls may have hit a new high in New Jersey. The Federal Communications Commission says complaints about them increased 22 percent over the course of two years and complaints about hang ups rose dramatically from near zero in 2015 to 1,400 so far this year. State Sen. Richard Cody is pushing a plan to block those calls. He sat down with Correspondent Leah Mishkin.
Mishkin: Governor, thank you for being here with us today. We are talking about robocalls, or what you call “robocall insanity.”
Codey: It is insane. Leah, you know it, we all know it.
Mishkin: I kind of like getting the impression that I’m going to get a free cruise. I’m joking.
Codey: We’ve all had that. Last year, 30 billion phone calls into our country were all robocalls. Figure out mathematically how many we all get everyday and every year. They’re annoying as all hell. It’s like pulling up at a red light and there’s a car in front of you. The light turns green and the car in front of you hasn’t moved because he’s reading his messages. It’s more annoying than that. It’s that everyday annoyance. You don’t want to answer your phone anymore. And now they’re using area codes that you’re familiar with because you’re more likely to answer the call as opposed to just ignoring it. So, we put up a petition online with an ad, shall we say, on social media. We got almost 600,000 people looking at it. We’ve got 12,000 people who have signed the petition to the FCC to say this has to stop, and it has to stop now. One of the carriers has already called and got in touch with us about this.
Mishkin: How do you do that? How do you make it stop?
Codey: Here’s what happens. These calls are sent to like India and they can do millions of calls in a minute. It’s all random numbers sent mostly to the U.S. Then they go after them, and by the time they’re close to them, they’ve moved on to another spot. They use spoofing. What the FCC has to do, along with the carriers, they have to sit down and say what do we need to do to finally end this total insanity with these robocalls.
Mishkin: You mentioned that it’s annoying, but is it more about it being annoying or are we talking about the scams? What’s the main reason why this should end?
Codey: The scams, as we all know, about ‘we can do a lower price on your electric company,’ the bit about ‘the ship coming in,’ warranties go on and on. Unfortunately, Leah, there’s a lot of people that are sucked into this. We use to get calls from people who said, “Governor, you’ve got to help me. I just found out that my grandson is being held for ransom.” Don’t go to the bank. Now if you or I get that call we’re going to know it’s a bunch of baloney. People are scam artists and nothing changes like that since time and memorial. They’re around, but we have to stop it. Based on the amount of people who see me anecdotally, they’re as annoying and p-ed off as I am.
Mishkin: So you mentioned you have this petition to the FCC. They have taken some action. They had a $120 million fine to a Florida-based company. They had a push for taking action in July trying to partner government and industry officials. Is that enough? Are you hoping for more with this petition?
Codey: How many did you get today? I’ve got some already. That’s good, we just have to spur them on more and more and hopefully, maybe in a couple months, this thing will be solved and it doesn’t happen anymore. Then we can answer our calls. Initially enough, I don’t know about you personally, but with me I would get these odd numbers that I don’t know that are annoying, but I’m not going to answer it. But now they’re calling [with area code] 973 and a 201 and I’m more likely to answer that. So it gets worse and they get better at doing what they’re doing. “OK, we have to send 201 here, or 973 to 973.”
Mishkin: So, hopefully next time we have this conversation, when I get a call for a Caribbean vacation, it is a real Caribbean vacation, governor. Thank you for being here with us.
Codey: Thank you.