DENVER (CBS4)

By Kelly Werthmann

March 11, 2019

– Do you get a lot of calls from unknown numbers? Are scammers blowing up your phone? You’re not alone.

“I get them all the time. It’s bogus!”

“I block the number and then another number gets me. It’s annoying.”

“I get nervous it’s my friend in trouble, but then it ends up being a scam.”

Various cellphone users told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann they receive robocalls several times a week, if not multiple times a day. It’s a frustrating issue and one Colorado’s attorney general is trying to stop.

“The scammers are getting more and more sophisticated,” Phil Weiser said. “We need to stop the spoofing where they pretend to be calling from our neighborhoods.”

Weiser has joined a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 attorneys general in supporting the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The TRACED Act requires phone carriers to implement technology to identify who’s behind the scam calls.

“It gives both the FCC and the federal and state law enforcement tools to crack down on the robocalls,” Weiser explained. “Right now the technology is not in place to figure out where the calls are coming from. We need help.”

Among other things, the TRACED Act prioritizes efforts to ensure phone carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN, a technology that would substantially assist consumers in filtering and blocking unwanted robocalls and other phone-based spam. The legislation also establishes an Interagency Working Group that would enable Colorado to coordinate more closely with federal regulators in combating this crisis.

Last year, Coloradans received an estimated 120 million robocalls—averaging out to more than 20 such calls per Colorado resident. Weiser said robocalls are the number one complaint to his office.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said. “In 2019, half of all phone calls are expected to be scam robocalls.”

In the middle of his interview with CBS4, Weiser received a call from an unknown number. He had a good feeling it was a scam and his conversation with the person on the other end seemed to prove him right.

“Hello, what is your name, sir, and phone number to look up your information?” the caller asked.

“You just called me,” Weiser replied.

“Yes, to verify please,” the woman responded.

“Why do you need my name?” Weiser questioned. “You just called me.”

“Um, to verify the information, sir,” she said.

“What are you selling,” Weiser asked.

“We’re not selling anything, sir,” the woman replied.

“Why did you call me?” he asked.

“Alright, thank you so much for your time. Bye bye,” the woman said before hanging up.

Weiser said he’s received several robocalls like that, including one that he said made him very angry.

“I’ve been called actually being threatened with jail, and I’m the attorney general,” he said. “I was so pissed off I wanted to basically get the person talking, but as soon as these people know who you are they hang up.”

All the more reason, Weiser added, the TRACED Act is necessary to help authorities trace back to the scammer. Supporters of the TRACED Act hope it will help the federal government and law enforcement agencies find the scammers and fraudsters and potentially prosecute them.

“That way the feds can say to us here in Colorado, ‘There’s a scammer located in Colorado, you can go after them and prosecute them with criminal fraud,’” Weiser said. “Right now I don’t have the tools to get that information.”

Weiser said the TRACED Act is still in its introductory phase, so it will likely be some time before any kind of technology is in place to help consumers and authorities identify robocalls. In the meantime, Weiser warns everyone to be skeptical of unknown callers and to not answer any calls from numbers they don’t recognize.

Read more on CBS4 here