Following a Senate hearing last month, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is continuing her effort to protect consumers from fraudulent robocalls, sending a letter to top telecom associations asking them to evaluate the feasibility of implementing technology to help filter out unwanted calls and protect America's most vulnerable consumers.
"The representatives of your industries expressed skepticism regarding these technologies, raising a number of potential legal, regulatory, financial, and technological challenges," McCaskill wrote. "By October 15, 2013, please provide me with a complete analysis of the challenges your industry foresees in implementing these types of technological solutions."
McCaskill also asked the industry to comment on suggested changes to laws that would better equip federal regulators to crack down on robocall scams.
McCaskill, a tech leader in the Senate and Chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, recently chaired a Senate hearing to examine how fraudulent robocalls are harming consumers, and called on U.S. telephone providers to explore implementing technological solutions to reduce robocalls received by American consumers. As McCaskill highlighted at the hearing, such technologies are already being developed and at least one phone company in Canada already offers such a service free to its customers.
Although the popular Do Not Call Registry was established ten years ago, robocalls still rank as a top consumer complaint received by government agencies, comprising the largest volume of complaints to the Missouri Attorney General's office, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FTC alone receives over 200,000 complaints about robocalls per month, constituting the single largest type of complaint in terms of raw numbers. The FCC, meanwhile, has seen complaints about robocalls double between 2010 and 2012.
The Justice Department has estimated that consumers lose over $40 billion a year to fraudulent telemarketers.
McCaskill recently launched an online tool that allows individuals to report scams and fraud they encounter in advertising and sales. The "Submit Your Scam" button at www.McCaskill.senate.gov allows constituents to submit personal stories and tips to help McCaskill crack down on scams and protect consumers.