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WEST CHESTER (April 9, 2020) – Robocall scammers looking to profit off of public fear, confusion, and uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis should think again, state Senator Andy Dinniman said.

This week, Dinniman announced plans to introduce legislation to enact stronger punishments and fines for illegal and scam robocalls during the COVID-19 emergency.

“Robocall scammers are exploiting the current crisis to steal residents’ personal information and money. These scam calls are often based on inaccurate facts and use questions to solicit private information from people,” Dinniman said. “The fact that scam robocalls are continuing and even appear to be increasing during the COVID-19 crisis is unconscionable.”

The legislation calls for doubling any fines and punishment currently under Pennsylvania law for such scam operations, and would expire on July 1, 2020, or until such time that the governor’s emergency order is lifted.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported that multiple illegal robocall scams have been circulating nationally. One scam pretends to be from the Social Security Administration, one offers fake Coronavirus testing to Medicare recipients, and one tries to scare small businesses into buying fake online services.

“Citizens who are physically separated from family and friends may feel scared and alone. From some seniors and others without internet access, the telephone is the only way to communicate. There’s an increased need to answer the phone and for many, a potentially greater willingness to trust the caller,” Dinniman said. “These scams prey on the vulnerable and those who already have enough to worry and need to be stopped.”

Dinniman encouraged PA residents to stay aware of these scams, even as the legislation is brought forward. You can listen to examples of these scams and learn more about what they ask for here.