Smoke and Mirror Phone Scams (Part 3)

Two Senate Letters with

Conclusion

Summary

Daily there are articles referencing the relentless attack on consumers by the epidemic of robocalls and telemarketers since my last posting last month. Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris both responded to my letter of concern on this issue. Coincidentally, Senator Feinstein was recently the victim of an anti-Semitic robocall that circulated in California in mid-May: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Robocall-attacks-Dianne-Feinstein-with-12914413.php

Although a recent large fine was levied against a Florida robocaller by the FCC, consumers still have to rely on robocall blocking technology to address the issue:

https://gizmodo.com/fcc-hits-robocaller-with-120-million-fine-but-the-call-1825941926

Senator Dianne Feinstein responds to robocall/telemarketing concerns on May 2, 2018

On May 2, 2018, Senator Feinstein e-mailed me her response to consumer concerns on robocalls and telemarketing issues plaguing our country. I have included her response below:

Senator Kamala Harris responds to robocall/telemarketing concerns on May 4, 2018

On May 4, 2018, Senator Harris e-mailed me her response to consumer concerns on robocalls and telemarketing issues plaguing our country. I have included her response below:

Conclusion

It appears that consumers will have to remain vigilant and explore a host of apps and options to address the ongoing and widespread expansion of robocalls and telemarketing schemes before Congress and the FCC can pursue continuous and sustained legal action against these menacing calls.

Sam Jojola

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Dear Sam:

Thank you for your letter regarding your concerns about unsolicited calls and the enforcement of the Do Not Call Registry rules.  I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I understand that you have registered your number with the National Do Not Call Registry, but that you have continued to receive telemarketing calls with disguised identities and phone numbers.  In your letter, you expressed your support for stronger penalties against companies that violate the Registry rules.

If you continue to receive unsolicited telephone calls despite having your phone number registered with the Do Not Call Registry, I encourage you to contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The FCC can issue warning citations and impose fines against companies violating or suspected of violating the Do Not Call rules.  You can reach an FCC representative at:

Federal Communications Commission

Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

Telephone: 1-888-225-5322 or 1-888-835-5322 TTY

Website: http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

You may be interested to know that on March 8, 2017, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANGUP) Act” (S. 564), which would repeal provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and the Communications Act of 1934 that authorize robocalls for the purpose of collecting debts owed to the U.S. Government.  In addition, this bill would prohibit government contractors and legal entities from using automated telephone equipment without consent.  This legislation is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Commerce Committee, of which I am not a member.

You may be interested to know that I have supported efforts to address unsolicited calls.  I cosponsored the Do Not Call Improvement Act (Public Law 110 -187), which was signed by President Bush in 2007.  This law prohibits the Federal Trade Commission from removing numbers from the Do Not Call registry unless the number is invalid, disconnected, or reassigned, or the individual to whom the number is assigned so requests.

I certainly recognize the disruption that unwanted telemarketing calls cause, and I have supported efforts to address this matter in Congress.  I am sorry to hear about your ongoing frustration with unsolicited calls.  As you may be aware, calls that are not commercial in nature, such as those conducting surveys or calls from charitable or political organizations, are permitted to access numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.  Businesses with an existing relationship with a caller are also permitted to call in certain situations.

Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANGUP) Act” come before me for consideration in the Senate.

Once again, thank you for writing.  Should you have any other questions or comments, please call my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at feinstein.senate.gov.  You can also follow me online at YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter, and you can sign up for my email newsletter at feinstein.senate.gov/newsletter.


Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 4, 2018
Dear Mr. Jojola,

Thank you for writing to share your views with me about telecommunications. Broadband Internet networks that serve consumers play a critical role in California and throughout the world. California is the most interconnected state in the country and is home to many of its most significant innovators.

Telecommunications companies provide services that Californians rely upon daily. These networks connect friends and loved ones, connect businesses to customers, connect students to learning, and connect us to the latest news from around the world. And, right now, companies are innovating to develop even more powerful services to connect consumers – including connecting devices to each other through the Internet of Things – in exciting new ways that were not imaginable just a few years ago.

I am committed to creating an environment where innovators can flourish and where consumer protections remain top of mind as technology advances.  Telecommunications companies store enormous amounts of data from their customers, including email, financial records, Internet browsing history, and health records. Companies have a responsibility to ensure that these data are well protected and shielded from unauthorized disclosure.

For these reasons, I voted against a Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 34) in March 2017 that repealed a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule giving consumers privacy protections against the sale or use of your data without your permission. The rule would have placed reasonable requirements on Internet service providers (ISPs), including telecommunications companies, to seek permission from consumers before collecting sensitive information and to require them to implement security protections to protect consumer data. This was a common-sense rule that should have been maintained.  I was disheartened that a majority of my Senate colleagues voted for the resolution and the president signed it into law.

Nevertheless, I will continue to work to make sure both innovation and consumer protection thrive in the telecommunications sector. As your Senator, I will continue to reach across the aisle and work with all members of the Senate to help make progress on this goal.

Again, thank you for reaching out to share your views with me. I invite you to visit my website www.harris.senate.gov or call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3553 should you have any further questions.

Sincerely,

Kamala D. Harris
United States Senator

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