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Dingell Cracks Down on Phone Scams, Protect Consumers

Washington, DC, October 2, 2018

In an effort to crack down on robocalls and scammers, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced legislation to give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the tools it needs to combat annoying and sometimes malicious and harmful calls that target the vulnerable including seniors.

Last year the FTC received 4.8 million consumer complaints about robocalls, and that number continues to rise. Scammers show blatant disregard for the National Do Not Call Registry and use scare tactics to con their victims in to sending them money, often posing as the IRS, the FBI or a utility company and demanding immediate payment to avoid legal action.

“Anyone with a ​cellphone has received a call from a number that looked to be local and turned out to be a scammer,” said Dingell. “At best these calls are annoying, at worst they scare people in Michigan and across the country into giving up hard-earned money. These scammers must be stopped.”

Robocalls often target seniors or folks with little ability to pay and take hard earned money from those who need it most.  These calls are evolving in complexity as well - gone are the days where a 1-800 number flashes on the caller ID.  The tactic of local spoofing, using a phone number with the same area code and similar numbers to the recipient are on the rise, tricking people to picking up the phone thinking it’s a family member or loved one. 

Currently, the FTC lacks authority over phone companies that could help ensure that the consumer protection agency uses its expertise and enforcement strength to push the phone service providers to address this issue. The Creating Enforcement Authority to Stop Enablers (CEASE) Robocalls Act, would lift the common carrier exemption from the FTC, giving them the tools they need to combat these malicious calls often made through small Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

“This commonsense bill gives the Federal Trade Commission the tools they need to hang up the phone on scammers,” Dingell continued. “Too many VoIP services are exploiting protections and it’s costing vulnerable Americans.”

You can read the text of the CEASE Robocalls Act here, and the summary here.


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