NC lawmakers take steps to curb robocall prevalence

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While the federal government tries to crack down on robocalls, state leaders are taking steps aimed at curbing them.

“There’s a woman in Hickory who lost $220,000 to these criminals. So, we’ve got to put an end to the robocalls and we can,” said Attorney General Josh Stein (D-NC). “They can be worse than annoying. They are a source of fraud.”

He’s urging people to sign a petition showing their frustration.

He says he wants to put pressure on phone companies and federal regulators to take further action.

“There are technological fixes the phone companies can deploy that will shield us from these calls,” Stein said. “When I need the FCC to update their regulations, I have the argument to say I am speaking on behalf of the people of North Carolina and here’s how many thousands of people agree with me.”

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced a crackdown on robocalls, saying the agency worked with law enforcement to block more than a billion robocalls. However, those account for just a percentage of the calls Americans receive every year.

“Billions of illegal are placed each year and we are all fed up with it,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

A report earlier this year by Hiya, a company that monitors spam calls, said more than 26 billion robocalls were placed in the U.S. last year.

The state Senate has placed on its calendar a bill that already passed the House unanimously. It would fine companies that display fake numbers when calling or texting someone. But, tracking down the original source of those calls can be difficult.

“The scammers are really good at their job. And so, I think when we have a hold on it, it kind of lays low for a while and then it springs back up,” said Brandie Garner, of Grifton.

She works with seniors to avoid phone scams and helps those who might have fallen victim.

“It’s a friendly voice on the other end, and so having general conversation is important. And, they end up giving personal information.”

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