Senate Aging Committee Addresses Robocalls

On October 4, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing to examine why Americans who signed up for the Do Not Call Registry are still receiving robocalls and explored options of what could be done to stop these calls. Witness at the hearing were Lois Greisman, Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission; The Hon. Josh Shapiro, Attorney General, State of Pennsylvania; Kevin Rupy, VP for Law & Public Policy, USTelecom; and Genie Barton, President, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Institute for Marketplace Trust.

All four witnesses agreed that increasing consumer education and outreach is essential to prevent seniors from falling victim to scams. Most of the discussion focused on Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) scams and Congress’s recent authorization of the IRS’s delegation of debt collection calls to third parties. Mr. Shapiro said that 67% of today’s seniors are “online” and are the wealthiest generation of seniors. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office receives 20,000 complaints per year about telephonic scams. IRS scams are at the top of that list. Last year, his office received 881 IRS scam complaints, 62% of which targeted seniors. During the hearing, Chair Collins expressed frustration that although the government has tried to implement rules to cut down on the number of robocalls, they still haven’t ended. Ms. Greisman responded that the technology is not up to speed yet because many call authentication methods are still being beta tested. Mr. Shapiro also emphasized that collaboration between local, state, and federal law enforcement was key to tracking down those making robocalls and punishing them.