AARP today announced its endorsement of the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act (S. 151), legislation that would help reduce illegal and unwanted robocalls and significantly reduce the risk from consumer fraud schemes. Both the U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote soon on the TRACED Act. It combines elements of separate bills – both endorsed by AARP – that previously passed the House and Senate.
“AARP has a long history as a consumer advocate, and through our Fraud Watch Network initiative we work to empower consumers to protect themselves and their families from scams,” said AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond. “Con artists frequently use illegal robocalls to deceive victims into paying money under false pretenses. All Americans will benefit from the safety provisions of the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act.”
The bill will require service providers to adopt state-of-art technology to authenticate the information displayed on Caller ID systems. Lack of authentication is a current weakness exploited by scammers who often disguise or “spoof” Caller ID displays. An AARP survey this year found a high consumer reliance on Caller ID. U.S. adults are more likely to answer a call that appears to originate from a local area code (59%), or an area code where friends or family live (44%).
The bill also prohibits companies from charging the cost of implementing the call authentication technology to consumers, and expands the power of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to file civil penalties against robocall operators of up to $10,000 per call.
According to an industry estimate, 54 billion robocalls have been placed nationwide so far during 2019. While automated calls can serve legitimate purposes – such as medical appointment reminders or airline schedule advisories – experts say half of the calls are scams, many targeting seniors.
In addition to supporting this legislation, AARP has taken action throughout the year to encourage policymakers to protect consumers from illegal robocalls. AARP has filed detailed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and has participated in an FCC Robocall Summit, spotlighting how unwanted calls facilitate scams.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver information about scams, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.
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