New Bill Would Fine Robocallers Up to $10,000 per Call

Megalith

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Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced a new bill this week for cracking down on illegal robocall scams. If passed, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would allow the FCC to “levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.” Prosecution will also be easier, as it extends the statute of limitations from one to three years.

Amidst ever increasing numbers of robocall scams, the TRACED Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.
 

Ranulfo

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And spammers don't give a fuck. As long as they are allowed to spoof numbers, you might as well fine them a billion dollars per call.
The government won't likely go after the telecoms selling number access any time soon. Are they going to sue India as a whole? MS might have a better shot on that front with libel and slander laws. This past election the only robo calls who regularly identified themselves correctly or partially were the political calls. The ones from candidates had the most openly stating their phone numbers in the voice message which were usually different from the actual number showing up in caller ID. But at least then you know who is calling and who to tell not to call back.

Just two days ago I got a robo chick message from a spammer telling my my icloud account was compromised, to not use it until I called them or "press 1 now to talk to a representative". Funny, I don't have an icloud account.
 

cyclone3d

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And spammers don't give a fuck. As long as they are allowed to spoof numbers, you might as well fine them a billion dollars per call.
I actually sent my congressman an email about how to stop this crap once and for all. Detailed all the rules that a law would have to have but it would also have to be enforced.

The fines should be levied against the VOIP providers who allow the spoofed numbers to be used. The VOIP providers should only allow those numbers that are being subscribed to be able to be used. That way, it is super easy to track down the little $#%^^% that scam call.

As it is now, you have to put in a police report to get a subpoena served to your telco provider in order to get the real number that called you which is completely unacceptable.

The solution is pretty straightforward but good luck getting ANY of it put into practice. Just follow the money.
 

kirbyrj

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I actually sent my congressman an email about how to stop this crap once and for all. Detailed all the rules that a law would have to have but it would also have to be enforced.

The fines should be levied against the VOIP providers who allow the spoofed numbers to be used. The VOIP providers should only allow those numbers that are being subscribed to be able to be used. That way, it is super easy to track down the little $#%^^% that scam call.

As it is now, you have to put in a police report to get a subpoena served to your telco provider in order to get the real number that called you which is completely unacceptable.

The solution is pretty straightforward but good luck getting ANY of it put into practice. Just follow the money.
Slippery slope though. You don't punish the ISP when someone pirates something on their service. I think this has already been litigated. But trust me, I hate robocalls.
 

DustMite

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So how do they plan to actually ENFORCE this? Sure, proposing or even passing some new law may make people feel good about themselves, but some of us live in reality.

In reality, there is such a thing as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, where a person can get a new phone number in a matter of minutes (or seconds even) for very little money. How does this bill plan to address the ability, or rather the inability, to track the actual location of many of these calls. It seems to me that spam calls and robocalls are big business and apparently someone or some groups of people are making a lot of money off all of it. How does this new bill plan to address this?

Now let's throw in the ease of spoofing the caller ID so it appears to be a local call. Many of the VoIP service providers allow the customer to set it up so that one can choose any number to appear in the caller ID on the receiving end. Let’s say one minute my calls appear to come from Florida, a couple seconds later I can make it appear like I’m calling from Montana, and a few more seconds it will appear like I’m calling from Oregon. You get the picture.

From what I read of this proposed bill, it seems to make one feel all warm and fuzzy with having "stiff penalties" for getting caught but it does not really help if you can't catch the robocallers and spam callers in the first place.

Just my two cents worth.
 

cyclone3d

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Slippery slope though. You don't punish the ISP when someone pirates something on their service. I think this has already been litigated. But trust me, I hate robocalls.
Thing is, it would be super simple to implement. If the VOIP providers are not part of the solution, then they are a major part of the problem.

For calls originating from their service
a. Check if IP(customer) that call is coming from owns the caller-ID being sent
b. If customer does not own that number, then either block call or send main account caller-ID.

Easy peasy. From a backend point of view it would only take a few lines of code to implement and would reduce these scam calls to almost 0.
 

clockdogg

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...
Just two days ago I got a robo chick message from a spammer telling my my icloud account was compromised, to not use it until I called them or "press 1 now to talk to a representative". Funny, I don't have an icloud account.
That's because your iCloud account was hacked. Your future one. That you won't know you needed because....it was hacked. ;-)
 

Tiberian

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If I get a piece of the $10,000 for my pain and suffering and emotional distress caused by the bastards auto-calling me, fine, good job.

If I don't get a penny of that fine then what's the fucking point? :D
 

Donald Bell

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And spammers don't give a fuck. As long as they are allowed to spoof numbers, you might as well fine them a billion dollars per call.
Spoofing and the ability to block your number always falls back to the battered woman argument for lobbyists that represent the robocall ghosts behind the scams. As long as those two features exist, the punishment could be death and the robocallers wouldn't care. Let's not forget how many phone calls robocalls are responsible for and how much money robocall scams generate for service providers. Every time they need a new number to dial from, that makes money for the providers too.

This law is about as ridiculous as ticketmaster and stubhub policing themselves to prevent scalping when they literally have dedicated departments and backend APIs that only exist to promote scalping.

Gotta love unchecked capitalism, am I right?
 

sfsuphysics

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And spammers don't give a fuck. As long as they are allowed to spoof numbers, you might as well fine them a billion dollars per call.
Exactly, they might nab one or two call centers, and ooh $10k or $1k per instance, maybe it's a bajillion dollars... ooops LLC. they declare bankruptcy, new company opens different name, same shit continues.
 

cjcox

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Yep... there's already major multiplicative penalties... but they do not enforce. If you want to "fix" this, develop a phone system that cannot be spoofed by telemarketers or by the government (that's a bill that will never happen). We really need to vote out the creator's of this bill and anyone that supports it because they really really really do not understand the problem at all. This isn't a "fix"... best case, it's a stupid law made by stupid people. Here's an idea, let's fine the telemarketers $10,000 per incident and all lawmakers $100 per incident.
 

steakman1971

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If I don't recognize the number calling me, I don't answer. I've given up blocking numbers - they get spoofed and just use a different one. This bill likely has no teeth and won't work.
 

Exavior

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They should also punish teleco that allow their numbers to be used for these scams.
The issue with your statement is that telcos don't allow it. Spoofing caller id isn't that hard. i deal with this day in and day out with no way to stop it.

Thing is, it would be super simple to implement. If the VOIP providers are not part of the solution, then they are a major part of the problem.

For calls originating from their service
a. Check if IP(customer) that call is coming from owns the caller-ID being sent
b. If customer does not own that number, then either block call or send main account caller-ID.

Easy peasy. From a backend point of view it would only take a few lines of code to implement and would reduce these scam calls to almost 0.
Don't know why you are thinking every phone in the world is ran on VOIP. That isn't the case.

That aside, what you said isn't as that simple sadly. For any legit phone company, they probably do what you are saying 99% of the time. I have a few cases for our customers where I do not. A few customers have multiple locations and instead of having the local number show up they have a main number for another area show up so that calls they make show up as the main switch board instead of the local office. That said, I also know that the people I am doing this for are not having me remove the check for them to send out spam calls. I would never do that for a call center. The problem is that it is easy to find companies that will allow that in order for them to get a cut of the money. At which case you can't stop that then. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these scammer aren't their own telephone company. It really isn't that hard to get a telephone company up and running if all you want to do is allow scam calls like that. So I could see a few just go through the process of becoming their own company at which case they now can do what they want and when they send the calls on the next in line assumes the numbers are legit. This is no different than VOIP fraud. There are companies out there that assist in the theft of voip service as they can make a lot of money off of it. Try to tell a shady company to stop making millions by being involved in scam calls.

All of this also assumes that the system providing the phone service is smart enough for doing this type of checking. Many of the larger guys have legacy equipment in place still that might not actually be able to check that type of stuff as it was created years before caller ID was a thing. One of the larger telcos as of 2 years ago didn't own a single soft switch, so they couldn't even do VOIP let alone anything intelligent with their switches. This actually comes up with some of the spam stuff and also in regards to number portability how many of the larger guys are so far behind in upgrade their equipment that they are holding back many areas of changes that the FCC would like to make.
 

Boscoh

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I'm in sales, and use my phone often for calls. Being reachable by customers is super important to me. However, it's getting to the point where I rarely answer if the number isn't in my contacts and I don't recognize it. I let it go to VM and look at the message with visual voicemail. The combination of text messaging and robocalls are serving to kill voice communications for me and a lot of other people.

On any given day, I get one to three robocalls. During the recent midterm elections, I was getting 5 to 10 per day. If there's an app out there for Android which lets me mute the ringer only for people not on my contact list, I need it.
 

Exavior

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If I don't recognize the number calling me, I don't answer. I've given up blocking numbers - they get spoofed and just use a different one. This bill likely has no teeth and won't work.
How does that work when you call yourself your or your friend's or parent's number shows up due to neighbor spoofing?
 

Dead Parrot

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All the fines in the world do nothing when the companies have near zero assets in extradition treaty countries. Create company, make 100,000,000 phone calls in a month, transfer income to non extradition treaty country, eventually get caught, convicted and fined $100,000,000. Assets available to pay fine, $10,000. Declare bankruptcy. Liquidate company. Spend a few months in jail. Upon release, Create company, make 100,000,000 phone calls, . . . . .

If we required a charge for every call over say 1000 per month, a lot of this problem would go away as the spammers would be billed up front. A penny per call might do the trick given the poor cash return per call.
 

Darunion

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Ability to enable access code restrictions to call a phone number. They could even sell such a thing. If you don't follow up the number dialed with the correct 5 digit key, then the call is not connected. Fuck I would pay for that lol.
 

RealBeast

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It would be far simpler if they simply outlaw spoofing the number that appears on your phone and make it a felony offense. And yeah, just fucking block India and any other big offenders and 99% of this shit would be gone

I had a guy call me the other day that lives in my town and scream at me that I just called him (but I had not made any calls all day, just some spoofed call), he was pissed when I told him to fuck off and if he had an issue to come on over to my house -- he never showed up, which was his best move. I would, however, like to shoot the robo-caller in the face with my .454.
 

Exavior

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Ability to enable access code restrictions to call a phone number. They could even sell such a thing. If you don't follow up the number dialed with the correct 5 digit key, then the call is not connected. Fuck I would pay for that lol.
They have that. Goes by a few names, but there are calling feature sold by some phone switch makes that do exactly what you are asking about. Some have you enter a number, some make you say your name and then press a number... My mom wasn't able to call a relation when my aunt passed away because she didn't have the code to enter to call said relation.
 

cyclone3d

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It would be far simpler if they simply outlaw spoofing the number that appears on your phone and make it a felony offense. And yeah, just fucking block India and any other big offenders and 99% of this shit would be gone

I had a guy call me the other day that lives in my town and scream at me that I just called him (but I had not made any calls all day, just some spoofed call), he was pissed when I told him to fuck off and if he had an issue to come on over to my house -- he never showed up, which was his best move. I would, however, like to shoot the robo-caller in the face with my .454.
It is already illegal in India and in the U.K. According to what I could find, their is jail time a huge fines for those that do spoofing.

The calls from India that I have gotten in the past are real numbers that they will pick up if you call back.

Not so in the USA... they just spoof whatever the crap number they like and then there is no way to find out who called you short of involving the police and forcing your provider to give you the real number that called you.

Like I said before, the ONLY number that should be allowed to show up as caller ID are real numbers that the companies are paying for. I do not care if they spoof to show their main number or a main office... just as long as the number can be tracked to a person or company so they can have a swift kick to the nuts in more ways than one if they are scamming or calling people on the do not call list.
 

seanreisk

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This is past being a nuisance, and is closing in on being damaging to business, infrastructure and even personal safety. Federal law, shmederal law, this needs to be a civil issue, I'd happily pay into a Go-Fund-Me drive to tort these bastards into the ground.
 

Exavior

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It is already illegal in India and in the U.K. According to what I could find, their is jail time a huge fines for those that do spoofing.

The calls from India that I have gotten in the past are real numbers that they will pick up if you call back.

Not so in the USA... they just spoof whatever the crap number they like and then there is no way to find out who called you short of involving the police and forcing your provider to give you the real number that called you.

Like I said before, the ONLY number that should be allowed to show up as caller ID are real numbers that the companies are paying for. I do not care if they spoof to show their main number or a main office... just as long as the number can be tracked to a person or company so they can have a swift kick to the nuts in more ways than one if they are scamming or calling people on the do not call list.
The problem is that even if you involve the police that doesn't mean that you can get the real number. As the phone number gets passed from carrier to carrier you lose any of the information. Some companies have zero why to go back on records of calls passing through their networks, others can only go back a few hours or maybe a day. So you are hoping that you get that police order quick enough, then hope that your telephone company can get a ticket opened with the person who sent them the call and they get to the person who sent them the call... That said, today spamming is a crime, what they are doing it illegal and can be punished by fines and jail time. So honestly not sure what this changes other than it sounds like moving the amount of time that you can go back from 1 year to 3 years to press charges. However most calls don't come from the USA or are routed through other countries at least. Like I said it is no different than VOIP fraud. Which in some cases the two are actually tied together. Somebody manages to brute force a VOIP account, configure a system to use that and they as many calls over the stole connection (which means real caller id) as they can before the provider realizes the account has been compromised then they get another account and start over with that. I wish there was an easy solution for everyone to put in place as it would save me from having either myself of my people deal with this shit all the time. Every time one thing is done to slow down spam they just change what they do and get around it.
 

Ranulfo

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This is past being a nuisance, and is closing in on being damaging to business, infrastructure and even personal safety. Federal law, shmederal law, this needs to be a civil issue, I'd happily pay into a Go-Fund-Me drive to tort these bastards into the ground.
It has been theraputic at times to watch counter scammers on youtube and twitch fight back against them. Kitboga on Twitch is hilarious at it. Watched him drag out a call with a indian IT fixit scam for almost two hours once.
 

nutzo

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Spoofing and the ability to block your number always falls back to the battered woman argument for lobbyists that represent the robocall ghosts behind the scams. As long as those two features exist, the punishment could be death and the robocallers wouldn't care.?
Spoofing has legitimate uses.

I have our office phone system setup to "spoof" our main number on all outgoing calls.
We have multiple lines and wouldn't want customers seeing the various numbers assigned to our T-1 lines.
Instead we spoof our main number, which for incoming calls is forwarded to the number on our first set of lines.
 

nutzo

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Like I said before, the ONLY number that should be allowed to show up as caller ID are real numbers that the companies are paying for. I do not care if they spoof to show their main number or a main office... just as long as the number can be tracked to a person or company so they can have a swift kick to the nuts in more ways than one if they are scamming or calling people on the do not call list.
Agree completely. If you own the number, then you should be able to spoof it on your other lines.
Spoofing a number you don't own should be illegal, and subject the spoofer to massive fines unless they can show it was an honest mistake. (like a typo, or the new guy messed up the configuration on the lines, etc)
 

velusip

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So how do they plan to actually ENFORCE this? Sure, proposing or even passing some new law may make people feel good about themselves, but some of us live in reality.

In reality, there is such a thing as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, where a person can get a new phone number in a matter of minutes (or seconds even) for very little money. How does this bill plan to address the ability, or rather the inability, to track the actual location of many of these calls. It seems to me that spam calls and robocalls are big business and apparently someone or some groups of people are making a lot of money off all of it. How does this new bill plan to address this?

Now let's throw in the ease of spoofing the caller ID so it appears to be a local call. Many of the VoIP service providers allow the customer to set it up so that one can choose any number to appear in the caller ID on the receiving end. Let’s say one minute my calls appear to come from Florida, a couple seconds later I can make it appear like I’m calling from Montana, and a few more seconds it will appear like I’m calling from Oregon. You get the picture.

From what I read of this proposed bill, it seems to make one feel all warm and fuzzy with having "stiff penalties" for getting caught but it does not really help if you can't catch the robocallers and spam callers in the first place.

Just my two cents worth.
Nothing can be done if the abusers aren't reported. I've worked in the telco and VoIP industry and I would occasionally encourage wholesalers to keep lists of these kinds of customer complaints so I could analyze them. An immense amount of logged information at the trunking level allows me to easily find patterns of abuse even without corroborating lists of complaints. Of course all I could legally do is find and eliminate abusers from the network I control, or notify the admins of others. So really, this WOULD be an easy thing to manage if anyone really gave a shit and reported it.

Of course, sometimes merely reporting it is annoying because some telcos can't be fucked to help you, or don't know how, or the support agent has no knowledge/training/access to tools. Or when they do, they charge a fee to identify a calling source and block it from their end.

The way I see it, once there is incentive (fines) to punish SPIT (spam over internet telephony), then it incentivizes a system to make it actually work... which could lead to good and bad outcomes. e.g. further regulation on service providers, yet another angle at mandatory surveillance infrastructure imposed on service providers which further inflates the startup cost within the industry, and for the larger incumbents it provides another excuse to hike rates or charge for the blocking/gray-listing service.

On the other hand, this is something that should have been reformed a long time ago. From past experience, I was always amazed with how many shotgun operations there are in the telco world. Large pools of hijacked DIDs go unnoticed under the control of smaller wholesalers, and blind routing of calls with no recourse in spite of ample complaints (little to no concern or support for graylisting features).

It's worth looking around to see if your telco has any sensible options.
 

/dev/null

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I actually sent my congressman an email about how to stop this crap once and for all. Detailed all the rules that a law would have to have but it would also have to be enforced.

The fines should be levied against the VOIP providers who allow the spoofed numbers to be used. The VOIP providers should only allow those numbers that are being subscribed to be able to be used. That way, it is super easy to track down the little $#%^^% that scam call.

As it is now, you have to put in a police report to get a subpoena served to your telco provider in order to get the real number that called you which is completely unacceptable.

The solution is pretty straightforward but good luck getting ANY of it put into practice. Just follow the money.
What if you don't purchase a inbound DID from that voip provider, but you buy a per-call plan? You may not HAVE an return/incoming number.
 

dragonstongue

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Shame they do not do the same for the ever increasing amount of BS spam/scam emails sent on a daily basis often times from incorrect sender email that no matter how many times you "report" or try to block or unsub it does sweet fuck all.

There should be a mandatory law of sorts that forces ISP (or something) that the sender has to use a legitimate hased IP identifier for any email that is sent so you do not get emails sent by you to you (when it is not) or those crazy ones like
DFGkfhjGdlahdeuy@webaddress.com (example)

I do not get anything as close to as many spam/scam phone calls that I get emails...inf fact, the amount of those type calls I get is like winning a lottery in comparison.

As others have said, how exactly do they plan on "forcing" this fine when as the "complainer" it is hard enough to force them to adhere to DNC lists, unless they plan on having "phone police" that sit around waiting for them robo callers to call them just so they can issue the charge ^.^
 

cyclone3d

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What if you don't purchase a inbound DID from that voip provider, but you buy a per-call plan? You may not HAVE an return/incoming number.
Then caller-ID should not show anything.. or show the phone number tied to the voip account... or at least the voip provider's phone number.
 

/dev/null

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Then caller-ID should not show anything.. or show the phone number tied to the voip account... or at least the voip provider's phone number.
Fair enough...I'm with the "don't show anything" as that is probably most accurate.
 

Viper16

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So I dont really understand the point of these spam calls...I got to the point where I wanted to actually talk to someone on the other side and rip their ass over it....but nothing, just a automatic hangup. So what is the actual purpose of these spam calls?

The worst ones are with my vehicle, as it is just past its standard warranty and they want to sell me extended warranty. Did the dealer sell my info??
 

Darunion

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The worst ones are with my vehicle, as it is just past its standard warranty and they want to sell me extended warranty. Did the dealer sell my info??
Could be them, your drivers insurance, the loan company. Not sure if title transfers can be monitored or not. As sad as it is, it never really was our info :(
 
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