U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley seeks to end predatory robocalls

COOS COUNTY — U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is going after robocalls that are scamming people out of money and identities.

In a press release on Wednesday, Jan. 23, Merkley put pressure on the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, questioning whether enough is being done to protect consumers from “predatory robocalls, including ones that impersonate federal law enforcement agencies.”

According to the release, Merkley’s action followed a robocall he answered recently from someone claiming to be from the FBI. The caller was “pushing for the recipient to ‘settle’ an outstanding case with the ‘Department of Tax and Crime Investigation.’”

“It is illegal to impersonate a federal officer, and more must to be done to stop these fraudulent harassing calls,” wrote Merkley in a letter to Pai, as stated in the release. “Investigating further, it appears that the FBI has known about these robocalls since February 2017. The FBI Pittsburgh field office released a community outreach press release suggesting that the public ‘be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.’ Nearly two years later these deceitful calls persist and continue to put Americans at risk of sharing personal identifiable information to scam artists.”

Merkley went on to write that the robocalls are more than just an inconvenience, but pose “targeted threats to the general public.”

“These calls are designed to manipulate individuals into revealing critical personal information such as their credit card and social security numbers and are increasing at an alarming rate,” he wrote, requesting that the FCC reveal to the public what it is doing to stop these calls “unmask these callers and track down the perpetrators.”

He pointed out that the most vulnerable are the elderly, but can also “erode trust in public institutions.”