Greg Walden Statement on COVID-19 Spoof Calls, 2nd Anniversary of RAY BAUM’s Act

March 23, 2020
Press Release

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services (RAY BAUM’S) Act becoming law. This legislation, authored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), reauthorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the first time in 28 years and helps protect consumers against spoof callers, including the recent influx of scams designed to capitalize on people’s fears surrounding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.  
 
“Last Congress, I helped pass into law the RAY BAUM’s Act, which reauthorized the FCC for the first time in two decades,” Walden said. “In this time of increased teleworking, telemedicine, and telehealth, the work achieved by the RAY BAUM’s Act is more important than ever. As fraudsters try to invade our networks, it is imperative the FCC has the tools necessary to stop bad actors from interfering with our technology and providing false information. We must remain vigilant against spoof callers claiming to have a cure for COVID-19 or offering to test for the virus. I will continue to work with the administration and the FCC to ensure that we do all we can to prevent these illegal calls.” 
 
The FCC, Federal Trade Commission, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration have released consumer warnings about fake texts, calls, e-mails, and websites regarding COVID-19. Scammers have been found to target people with false information about ability to test for the virus as well as vaccines and cures available. To learn more about what scammers are doing and methods to protect yourself from these calls click here.  
 
Walden spearheaded the effort to pass the RAY BAUM’S Act during his time as Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The RAY BAUM’S Act provided the FCC with new and improved tools for protecting consumers from illegal robocalls. In response to billions of robocalls made in the United States yearly, the FCC announced a plan to implement the powerful provisions of the RAY BAUM’S Act in July. Walden built on this success in January by championing the TRACED Act into law, which once implemented will further help stop illegal robocalls, such as covid-19 scam calls, by requiring phone carriers to implement call authentication technology.  
 
The RAY BAUM’S Act is named after Ray Baum, a La Grande native and friend of Walden. Ray was a long time public servant in Oregon from serving in the State House to heading the public utility commission. He also served as the Staff Director for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce until he lost his battle with cancer in 2018. 

In addition to stopping bad actors from providing false information, access to accurate information is also critical. The FCC has launched a pledge to “Keep America Connected,” to help ensure rural Americans have access to broadband during the coronavirus outbreak. The pledge is meant to incentivize providers to waive late fees for low-income families and small businesses and expand access to Wi-Fi hotspots.  The FCC is also waiving all E-Rate and Rural Health Care program gift rules, which will make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning. Private companies are also joining forces to help Americans have access to critical information by eliminating or extending data caps. 

Click here for more information and resources on COVID-19.