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Congress acts on robocalls, which bothered '805' area code over millions of times

Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 25, 2019

One thing many of us asked Santa for this Christmas is a break from robocalls, the solicitors and scammers who call our phones in a relentless attempt to get money.

People with the 805 area code, which represents much of the Central Coast cellular network, received about 21 million robocalls in October alone, according to a recent report.

Youmail, a website that tracks these annoying calls, reports people with an 805 area code received an average of 10 calls per day this year from robocalls.

"During the day on my cell, two or three or four (calls)," LaMoine said. "I just got one this morning from someone in India saying there was something wrong with my computer. I wasn't very nice and hung up on them."

Nicole Vengoechea, an Atascadero resident, said she and her husband frequently receive bogus calls.

"One of them is always saying they are from the IRS and I'm just old enough now to know the IRS doesn't give you phone calls," Vengoechea said.

But she says her students at a North County high school get caught in the trap.

"(My students) tell me they've gotten similar phone calls and they start freaking out and give out the info and I tell them no guys, you don't do that," Vengoechea said.

Whether the calls are nefarious or just plain annoying, Congress is now cracking down with the TRACED Act.

"It would enable people to be certain that the number on their caller ID is really the number it's coming from," U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) said on the House floor.

The law directs cellular providers to create call verification technology, like a check mark, to indicate whether the call is legitimate and ALSO install software allowing people to block robocalls altogether.

"While these technologies have been available on an opt in basis, too many seniors and people in general don't know enough about them," Doyle said.

Makayla Lord, an Arroyo Grande resident, tried unsuccessfully to remove her number from the public domain.

"I signed up with the U.S. government to have those numbers blocked from my phone," Lord said. "There's less of them now, but I still get them."

Lord hopes this law curbs the calls so she can focus on what really matters.

"I have a son and he requires a lot of attention," Lord said. "It takes away time from him, my family, and my job because I think it's important."

The law would also create bigger fines for people who make the calls and cellular distributors that fail to comply.

Congress has already approved the TRACED Act, which is expected to be signed into law by Pres. Trump within the next few days.