Officials Addressing Ongoing Issues with Scam Calls Targeting Seniors
Last week, during a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing entitled “Combatting Robocall Fraud: Using Telecom Advances and Law Enforcement to Stop Scammers and Protect Seniors,” Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) highlighted the need for the Senate to pass his bipartisan bill, the Stop Senior Scams Act.
In an age where telecommunications technology, such as robocalls and spoofing, is utilized to trick seniors into giving money to scammers, this bill would enlist bank tellers and cashiers in the effort to spot and stop scams before seniors lose money.
The financial impact of scams, including robocalls, and financial abuses targeting seniors is estimated at least $3 billion a year.
According to Clarion County Sheriff Rex Munsee, this ongoing problem continues to affect seniors disproportionately and regularly affects people in our area.
“There are numerous scam calls you can get, from the grandchild who needs money to the IRS scam to Social Security scams,” Sheriff Munsee told exploreClarion.com.
“And, as unbelievable as it sounds, people fall for it.”
While the robocall scams are becoming a frequent issue, they should also immediately throw up a red flag to anyone who receives one, according to Sheriff Munsee.
“No one in law enforcement, for example, uses robocalls to get you to pay for something,” Munsee explained.
“If you say hello, and someone doesn’t answer right away, just hang up. You don’t have to be courteous to these people who call and interrupt your day. The worst you’ve done, if it is someone that really wants you, they’ll call you back. Just hang up. You don’t owe these people anything.”
At last week’s hearing, Senator Casey, Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging, said: “Robocalls calls are more than a nuisance, they turn a conversation into a heist by threatening our aging loved ones and stealing their hard-earned savings.
“Con artists are feeling more emboldened than ever, spoofing law enforcement phone numbers and threatening seniors and others with arrest in order to scare them into immediately handing over funds. We must make it harder for thieves to use robocall and spoofing technology in the first place, but also get everyone in the community involved in knowing how to spot a scam and stop money from ever exchanging hands.”
Casey has also fought to prevent scam artists from using robocall technology to contact consumers. In 2017, after his urging, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave telephone companies the authority to block certain robocalls coming from numbers that were likely to be scams. He also encouraged the FCC to finalize rules, which they ultimately did in June, to allow phone companies to automatically provide consumers with call-blocking services.
According to the FCC, Americans received approximately 47.8 billion robocalls in 2018.
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