Higgins Announces Passage of Legislation Preventing Illegal Robocalls, Increasing Penalties for Violators
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced House passage of bipartisan legislation that will push back against the increasing volume of illegal robocalls that Americans are faced with and strengthen law enforcement’s ability to prosecute the bad actors responsible. S. 151, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, requires every call to be verified through a nationwide caller authentication system, allows the blocking of spam calls, and empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to go after scammers by lengthening the statute of limitations for these violations and imposing greater fines.
In July the House overwhelmingly passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, similar legislation which required phone carriers to establish call verification technology and gave law enforcement and the FCC greater authority to penalize violators.
Congressman Higgins said: “Americans are receiving hundreds of illegal robocalls a year by bad actors using deceptive practices and aiming to cheat consumers. This common-sense legislation will help the FCC go after those who are making the calls and take steps to reduce the volume of robocalls received.”
In addition to verification technology and enforcement mechanisms, the legislation requires the Attorney General to establish an interagency task force to identify ways for federal departments to more effectively prevent violations of robocall laws.
Laws prohibiting unwanted calls and the Do Not Call Registry are no longer adequately protecting consumers from unwanted calls and robocalls. The total number of illegal robocalls jumped from 17 billion in 2017 to 47.8 billion in 2018 and continues to rise, flooding Americans with more of these calls than ever before. Some even predict that nearly half of all calls to cell phones in America this year will be scam calls. A robocall index estimates that the total number of robocalls made in New York state in November was 283 million, including 48.3 million in the City of Buffalo.
The final bill passed by a vote of 417-3, and now awaits the President’s signature. The legislation is supported by national groups including AARP, the National Consumer Law Center, and Consumer Reports.