Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Senator Bob Casey sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week asking that the agency roll out rules eliminating robocalling immediately. The FCC had proposed these regulations back in March, and the letter requested that the rules now be finalized and implemented. Shapiro’s efforts are part of a country-wide initiative with at least 29 other attorneys general supporting the commission’s plan to roll out “advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls.”
“Every day that you delay the implementation of the proposed rule, more seniors fall victim to a fraud or scam,” the letter stated. “It is time you take action on this rule to help protect friends and loved ones.”
In the letter, Casey and Shapiro note that automated calls have an especially negative effect on senior citizens who are likely to follow the prompts and fall for scams. Many scammers, including technical support, sweepstakes, medical, funeral, and charitable donate schemes use robocalling and specifically target this portion of the country’s population. It has been estimated the senior citizens are duped out of approximately three billion dollars every year, and an estimated 19 billion calls have been made since March.
Shapiro testified further on the issue of senior citizens being scammed at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, reviewing their vulnerability and the impact such scams have on their livelihood. He touched on IRS impersonation schemes, Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call (DNC) registry and robocalls. Currently, the states DNC list exempts any business that had a relationship with the recipient at any point within the past year. “We estimate American seniors lose more than $36 billion a year to scams and financial abuse,” Shapiro testified. “But discussing the impact of these scams in terms of billions of dollars obscures the real impact of these crimes on the individual. Nearly a million seniors in the United States have been forced to skip meals because they lost money to a scammer.”
Shapiro is asking for the roll out harsher repercussions for those targeting the elderly. “I know Senator Casey shares my views on this issue,” he said. “He and I are sending a joint letter to the FCC today to implement their proposed rule without further delay. It has been nearly eight months since the FCC first proposed this rule. During that time, it is likely that 19 billion calls have been placed using robocalling technology. We need the FCC to help us put a stop to these harassing and predatory calls. This is a top priority for my office.”
“It has been nearly eight months since the FCC first proposed a rule that would make it harder for scammers to spoof certain telephone numbers to trick people into answering their phones and creating opportunities for fraud and scams,” Casey added. “Today, I call on the FCC to finalize this rule immediately, so that we can uphold our sacred responsibility to do more to safeguard older adults from frauds and scams.”