Senate Votes to Approve Robocall Crackdown Bill

By JULIET KASZAS-HOCH | Jun 05, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Late last month the U.S. Senate voted 97-1 to pass the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act to get tough on robocalls. The bipartisan measure has broad support, including from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who applauded the Senate’s action.

“For years, Americans have been harassed by annoying, obnoxious and illegal robocalls,” said Menendez. “Robocalls are one of the top issues constituents contact my office about. I’m happy the Senate was able to come together … and pass the TRACED Act.

“For too long,” he added, “robocallers have been scamming the American public and getting away scot-free. It’s clear that our current laws are outdated and are unable to adequately protect consumers. It’s about time we close the loopholes in our telemarketing laws and give law enforcement the authority to hold scammers accountable. I look forward to the day when this bill eventually becomes law and consumers and businesses across the country finally get relief.”

The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission regularly cite “unwanted and illegal robocalls” as their No. 1 complaint category from constituents. In FY 2018, the FTC received 3,790,614 complaints about robocalls. The FTC’s most recent data shows that in 2017, New Jersey residents made more complaints, per capita, than any other state, with 321,393 complaints.

The TRACED Act – introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) – would curb robocalls by increasing fines, as well as requiring phone companies to develop call authentication and blocking technology.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where other robocall crackdown bills also await, including one proposed by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), which aims to help consumers stop debt collectors from calling them.

Menendez, whose April 12 news conference on fighting robocalls was briefly interrupted when the senator received a robocall on his cell phone, stated at the time, “These robocallers care about one thing – ripping you off. And the American people are sick and tired of it.

“Increasingly, these scam artists are using sophisticated spoofing technology to hide who they are and flout the law to get around the federal Do Not Call Registry. It’s happened to all of us. It happens to me. What we need are tougher laws to go after the scam artists who don’t play by the rules in the first place, and better protections for consumers constantly bombarded by these calls.”  —J.K.-H.

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