Sen. Merkley presses authorities to crack down on fraudulent social security robocalls

For years, robocallers have swindled millions of dollars from American families and eroded public trust in the government agencies they impersonate.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley recently demanded that the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) take necessary steps to protect American families from fraudulent Social Security-related robocall schemes that are victimizing tens of thousands of consumers.

“These unsolicited robocalls are not just an inconvenience to consumers, they are targeted attacks intended to collect personal information for monetary gain,” Merkley said. “Every call a consumer receives in which the caller pretends to be a government official will make consumers question the legitimacy of authentic communication from government agencies, including the SSA.”

“I request that the SSA and the FTC share what actions are being taken to limit robocall scams in general, and specifically to address robocalls impersonating federal agencies,” Merkley continued.

Although the FCC acknowledges that “unwanted calls are far and away the biggest consumer complaint” the agency receives, unauthorized call scams continue to be a prevalent, persistent issue. Earlier this year, Senator Merkley received a number of automated calls impersonating an official from the Social Security Administration, in which the caller claimed to have received suspicious information and threatened to “suspend” his Social Security Number (SSN) immediately – unless Senator Merkley could confirm his SSN over the phone.

In 2018, 35,000 Americans across America reported this specific call, which resulted in $10 million in losses. In the previous year, only 3,200 families were affected by this scam, losing only $210,000, highlighting the escalating severity and frequency of fraudulent automated call schemes.

In April, Senator Merkley and Congresswoman Anna G. Eschoo (D-CA) introduced the Regulatory Oversight Barring Obnoxious (ROBO) Calls and Texts Act of 2019. This legislation would create a Robocall Division within the FCC Enforcement Bureau to reinforce robocall regulations, and require the FCC to develop regulations to keep consumers safe from fraudulent robocall schemes.