With the rising threats of unwanted Robo-calls over the past couple of years, the Congress is now working on a solution that could hopefully eradicate, or at least reduce the number of scams and fraudulent acts involving these calls.
Thanks to the STC (Science, and Transportation Committee) and the Senate Commerce, the TRACED Act is now in progress of becoming a law. TRACED Act, or also known as Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, was a proposed bill last year, and is now the forerunning solution to stop these so-called Robo-calls.
What is TRACED Act
Traced Act is a legislation that would help the consumers through the means of implementing some technologies that could identify phone numbers before they reach an individual’s phone. It would then go through a filter that would recognize if the number comes from an actual individual or is a spam number. Hopefully it would successfully stop these calls from reaching people’s phones. This would require the help from a few of the well-known telecom carriers, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Moreover, the bill would also implement a more serious penalty to the violators. This includes the fine increase of each illegal calls to $10,000. The due process of the FCC in prosecuting the violators were also extended from just 12 months to a long 36 months. This definitely would boost the number of violators caught in a single year. As stated by the FCC themselves, the 12-month limit process really limited their actions.
Though the bill is a promising solution, even supporters of the bill are fully aware that it might not be the final answer to end these robo-call scams. Truth be told, it just wouldn’t be enough. It would also have to involve other agencies to collaborate with like debt collectors, credit-card companies, loan agencies and more others.
One thing is for certain however, and that is reducing the number of these unwanted robo-calls. To put in perspective, there were a total of 26 billion robo-calls just last year. If the bill could reduce it to at least 80% of that number, it would still be progress.
What are Robo-Calls and Why are They a Problem
Robo-calls are basically phone calls that automatically deliver a recorded message to the public. The calls usually represent a telemarketing company, a political party, or scammers and con artists. One of the most popularly known scams are the ones that would provoke consumers to call their agency due to unpaid tax fees.
The calls would then claim to be working for the IRS or SSA. Sadly enough, a significant number of people are baited into providing these scammers sensitive information. Some people are even coerced into giving out cash to the scammers via gift cards.
Due to the long and ineffective solutions that were proposed to stop these calls, robo-calls have exponentially increased throughout the years. Since then, more and more complaints were reaching the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Thus, the proposal of the TRACED Act.
“We absolutely must target these scammers as they present a unique, pernicious threat to tens of millions of unsuspecting consumers they seek to defraud”Sen. Edward Markey
Signs You Should Hang-up Your Phone
With the rising occurrence of unwanted robo-calls, the chance of you receiving one is now far from impossible. Since the FCC and FTC still has no power over these calls, there are however solutions that you as a consumer can do.
- Unpaid Taxes: This is a common scam in the Northern Americas. If you happen to have a caller that claims you or a family member owes tax money and wants you to pay, hang up immediately. Most, if not all government agencies do not allow outgoing calls to ask for payment. They usually mail a letter to the concerned individual.
- Won a Contest or a Prize: If you don’t remember joining any contests and suddenly receive a call that claims you’ve won, there’s a high chance it is a scam. They will most likely ask for a processing fee or a shipment fee before you can receive the price. You should know, most companies that gives out contests will not ask for any payments.
- Selected for A Limited Time: These calls usually say that you have a limited amount of time to respond to claim something from the agency they are working with. It’s either a discount, a grant, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or something similar. They usually milk you for any sensitive information and ask for payments afterwards.
- Fraud Alert: Some scams will inform the individual of any suspicious activity with your bank account or credit card. Make sure to ask the proper questions if they really work for your bank or credit card company. Better yet, hang up and call your bank to confirm.
- Technical Support: If the callers claim they work for any software company like Microsoft or Apple and says your computer is infected with a virus, hang up. There is no chance that companies similar to these will call you and offer to fix your computer.
- Threats: There are a lot of scams out there that are aiming to stress you out with fear or anger. They will demand payment and if you will not comply, they will get you arrested. You should know that government and other agencies do not threaten potential clients with jail time.