NEWARK, NJ — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez was trying to make a point about the duty of phone companies to help stop annoying robocalls during a press conference in Newark on Friday. Then he was interrupted by a phone call.
“Hello?” Menendez questioned.
“This is friendly reminder that your vehicle’s factory warranty may have expired,” a mechanical voice on the other end of the line said.
If you’re one of the estimated 135 million people in New Jersey who get robocalls every month, you may know how the rest of the spiel goes.
On April 12, the seemingly too-coincidental-to-be-true call rammed home the senator’s message: people need tougher laws and better consumer protections from harassing robocalls. According to YouMail’s robocall index, a record 5.2 billion robocalls were placed across the U.S. in January 2019, many with the goal of duping people into giving up their bank or credit card information.
“These robocallers care about one thing… ripping you off,” Menendez said. “And the American people are sick and tired of it.”
According to Menendez, scam artists are using sophisticated spoofing technology to hide who they are and flout the law to get around the federal Do Not Call Registry.
“It’s happened to all of us,” the senator said. “What we need are tougher laws to go after the scam artists who don’t play by the rules in the first place, and better protections for consumers constantly bombarded by these calls.”
On Friday, several Garden State residents joined Menendez at his office in Newark to share their personal stories of being harassed by unwanted calls. The fed-up New Jerseyans included:
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
During his Friday press conference, Menendez pushed for the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which unanimously passed the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this month.
The proposed federal law, S-151, has gained bipartisan support from 44 Senate Republicans and Democrats, Menendez said.
According to Menendez, the bill would:
Watch video footage from Friday’s press conference in Newark below.
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