U.S. Senators Look to Fight Robocalls and AI Scams with Increased Fines, Penalties

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Robocalls and phone scams are not only evolving, they’re also costing Americans billions of dollars. New artificial intelligence technology is making it even harder to identify a scam. 

Americans receive about four billion robocalls each month, many of them are from scammers. New Yorkers received over 238 million robocalls last month. The calls are obnoxious, annoying, oftentimes illegal and they’re costing Americans billions. 

“In 2022, Americans lost $65 billion to robocalls,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY). 

New artificial intelligence (AI) technology is giving scammers a very real advantage. 

“With the rise of generative AI and the potential for scammers to clone a person’s voice and use it to extract money from their loved ones, the danger of these robocalls is growing,” said Gillibrand. “Having AI be able to generate the voice of your grandson or your sister or your mother, is terrifying.” 

Seniors are at the greatest risk of falling victim. 

“They know how to play to older people’s assumptions and insecurities. It’s a psychological attack on these older people,” said Gillibrand. 

Gillibrand is reintroducing the Do Not Call Act, which she says would improve enforcement and enhance penalties for those who violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). 

Under the bill: 

  • A knowing and willful violation of the TCPA would result in a prison sentence up to one year 
  • Fines for falsifying caller ID would be increased from $10,000 to $20,000. 
  • Longer prison sentences for repeat offenders 

Gillibrand is urging Americans, especially seniors, to be cautious when receiving suspicious calls or inquiries. 

“The other thing they do is they berate them, often saying, ‘Well, you didn’t pay your bill, how embarrassing is that? You should just pay this bill.’ They’ll just make them feel like they missed something or forgot something or should have should have done something to increase anxiety to inspire immediate action,” said Gillibrand. 

Watch out for: 

  • High pressure tactics: In many instances, scammers steal money by provoking anxiety in their victim. Oftentimes, scammers insist they need the money immediately and are adamant about staying on the phone until they get it. 
  • Unsolicited outreach: Legitimate organizations, including within the government, typically do not request sensitive information via text messages. 
  • Spelling and grammar: Spelling and grammar errors are more common in AI-generated messages and scams. 
  • Suspicious links: Never click a link from an unknown sender. 
  • Falsifying caller ID: Robocalls and scammers can alter their caller ID to reflect a familiar name, organization or area. 

 What to do: 

Don’t take the bait: If you feel pressured, ask for a call-back number and hang up.  

Call a loved one: If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be a family member in need of help, call that person or another family member directly to confirm their whereabouts and well-being.

Research: Be familiar with the information on robocalls and phone scams. Learn how to spot AI-generated family emergency schemes. 

Report: You can report a scam at: ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also report it to your state’s Attorney General or to local law enforcement.