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Robocall scammers are calling more phones. New bill would fine them $10,000 per call

How to respond if you receive a robocall

Americans received an estimated 29.3 billion in unwanted telemarketing calls in 2016, according to a YouMail Robocall Index released this week. The Federal Trade Commission's Kati Daffin explains how to avoid these unwanted calls.
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Americans received an estimated 29.3 billion in unwanted telemarketing calls in 2016, according to a YouMail Robocall Index released this week. The Federal Trade Commission's Kati Daffin explains how to avoid these unwanted calls.

A new bill is looking to clamp down on the number of automatic robocalls Americans are increasingly receiving.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, announced his support for the TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act on Friday. The legislation was introduced by Rep. David Kustoff, R-Tennessee, in March.

In 2018, the frequency of robocalls increased by 46 percent, according to a news release. More than 48 billion of them were placed in the United States. Bradenton-area phone numbers with a 941 area code received more than 44 million robocalls last year, Buchanan said.

“Too many Floridians continue to be harassed by the nationwide onslaught of illegal robocalls. These are more than just a minor inconvenience — phone scams can defraud innocent Americans out of their life savings — especially vulnerable seniors.”

If passed, the TRACED Act would penalize scammers with fines of up to $10,000 per call. The law would also require cellular providers to upgrade calls ID systems and alert customers if the call is actually coming from a legitimate number. Robocalls often use “spoofing” to fake a number, hiding the caller’s location and identity.

“Nearly one in five Americans over 65 have been victimized by fraud,” said Buchanan. “Congress has a real opportunity to address this serious issue by passing this bill.”

An identical bill is working its way through the Senate, as well.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai provides some tips to help consumers avoid falling victim to illegal robocalls and maliciously spoofed calls.

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