By Elad Gross, Candidate for Missouri Attorney General
The ringing won’t stop. Our cellphones are bombarded with billions of scam calls stealing millions of dollars from Americans. Seniors are the prime targets, but everyone is vulnerable.
Threats about arrest warrants. Fake bills. Calls that look like they are coming from our loved ones. Just in the last few days, scammers spoofed the number of a federal court in Missouri, meaning they were able to make calls that looked like they were coming from the court. The scammers would claim to be the target’s grandchild needing money to get out of jail.
We can’t sit back as these crooks steal our money. We must take the fight to them.
Here’s our plan to fight scam callers and protect Missourians:
- We will prosecute scammers. We need to work with consumer protection groups, state Attorneys General, telecom, and federal regulators to find these folks and put them out of business. There must be consequences to these scams or they will continue. As Attorney General, I will ask the Legislature to increase the penalty for scam callers. A $5,000 penalty won’t keep these folks away. The soft-on-scams era needs to end.
- We will hold Big Telecom accountable. Our phone companies have the capability to shut down scam calls. Some companies are taking that responsibility seriously and warning customers when the incoming call is likely from a scammer. We need a coordinated strategy that implements new technology, shares information, and makes these widespread scams part of the past. As Attorney General, I will treat these scam calls with the seriousness they deserve. Phone companies that refuse to do the same will have to answer for abetting fraud on the American people. We cannot keep bending over backwards for these massive corporations.
- We will deploy a real education push in our state. Folks are being tricked into handing over money because they are afraid. No one wants to go to prison, see a grandchild locked in jail, or have the IRS garnish our wages. Scammers are taking advantage of folks not knowing how our government works. Most people in our state don’t even know who the Attorney General is. We need real accessibility, real outreach, and real education to help Missourians fight back. When we take back the Attorney General’s Office, you’ll know exactly who I am, you’ll be able to contact my office any time, and we will be in your community regularly to better serve you. That’s what this office should be about.
- We will develop a network to get the word out about scam efforts and educate the public. Missourians, community groups, law enforcement, and members of the media will be kept up to date on the types of scams targeting Missourians and ways we can avoid them.
- We will explore developing a Missouri Attorney General app to make protecting Missourians easier. We need to use technology in our favor. Today, to make a consumer complaint, Missourians have to call the Attorney General’s Office or fill out a form on the website. The complaint process should be streamlined for our current technology. As Attorney General, I will explore developing a Missouri Attorney General app that allows people to easily inform us of consumer protection complaints and receive important information right from their phones. By leveraging communication technology, we can more readily educate the public and include everyone in the fight against scammers.
It’s time for a new, smart approach to phone scams. The scammers aren’t waiting for us. We need to take the fight to them.
We need to take back Missouri, and that means taking back our phones too.
You can help. Join us at EladGross.org.