01.07.20

Robocall legislation could curb phone scams

A new law has been enacted that will hopefully reduce robocalls by requiring phone companies to implement authentication systems for callers.

“Robocalls are not only a nuisance, but they also pose significant harm to consumers, oftentimes with the intent to defraud or steal personal information,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said in a press release.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement Deterrence (TRACED) Act is meant to crack down on scam callers who disguise their number in an attempt to gain access to financial accounts.

“You’ve heard a lot of them, scams trying to get information on accounts, credit card accounts, banking numbers. Normally they’re spoofing other companies to get to your accounts,” Jared Crone said.

Spoofing is the act of posing as a legitimate company using a disguised telephone number in an attempt to scam a caller. Robocall scams have sharply increased in recent years. Three years ago only 17.6% of robocalls were dedicated to scams, but now make up over 45%, according to Lets Talk, a company that compares cell phone plans.

Coloradans were estimated to have been robocalled over 845 million times last year, making it the third most bothered state. In 2019 there were an estimated 58 billion robocalls made across the country, a 22% increase from 2018.

The legislation goes after spoofers by requiring authentication of phone numbers. Scammers will disguise their numbers to a local area code to coax an answer. The problem has become so widespread that 70 percent of Americans don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, according to Consumer Reports.

Some phone scammers will look up personal information in order to convince their target to send money.

“Every so often, someone calls someone saying ‘hey grandma or grandpa I’m in jail can you please send money here,’” Crone said.

To avoid this, people should only disclose financial information over the phone if they made the call themselves, never on received calls.

What is an annoyance for most people can be a drain on business.

“It’s an issue that (affects) businesses, both only local and all across our state, and any legislation that will improve business productivity and keep them from potentially being the target of a scam is a positive move in the right direction,” Sandy Schneider-Engle, Director of the Fort Morgan Chamber of Commerce, said.

In addition to requiring phone companies to verify phone numbers’ authenticity, the legislation also increases fines on attempted and successful phone scammers and requires the U.S. Attorney General to convene an inter-agency group to combine multiple agencies’ efforts reining in robocall scammers.

 

By: Jack Harvel

Fort Morgan Times