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Schumer: Time running out for Senate to pass anti-robocall bill in 2019

Sen. Chuck Schumer said Long Islanders get tens

Sen. Chuck Schumer said Long Islanders get tens of thousands of scam phone calls. Credit: Charles Eckert

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday said time is running out for the Senate to pass legislation this year that would help combat the tens of thousands of spam phone calls Long Islanders receive every month.

The anti-robocall bill in question passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, Schumer said at a news conference in Manhattan Sunday. The Senate has one week left to vote on the measure before the end of its final legislative session for the year. Otherwise it would have to take up the bill next year.

“What would stop it is not opposition but inertia,” Schumer said. “There's lots of other things on the floor of the Senate this week.”

Long Islanders received an average of nine robocalls a day in November, Schumer said. Those making the calls are often “little gangsters” overseas seeking to trick recipients into making credit card payments.

“Senior citizens get these calls that say, ‘Your son has been arrested, please post $5,000 bail or he’ll stay in jail,’ and they send the money. It's disgraceful,” Schumer said.

To combat the problem, the legislation would enable the Federal Communications Commission to issue $10,000 fines per robocall and give the commission more time to track down perpetrators. It would also require telecommunications companies to use technology that would block robocalls before they reach a target phone.

Schumer said he is “hopeful” that the legislation will pass this week.

“It'll be a nice Christmas present for the people of New York,” he said.

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