BREAKING: Senate passes bill cracking down on robocalls

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Press Release Senator Doug Jones 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today the Senate passed broad, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to decrease and deter robocalls. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act passed the Senate by a vote of 97-1.

“Robocalls are not only annoying, inconvenient and unwelcome – they can also be dangerous because the intent behind these calls is to scam people,” said Senator Jones. “This bill is a good first step to put these fraudsters on notice and stop them from bothering folks with these never-ending fake phone calls.”

The TRACED Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties on those who get caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to evaluate policies and resources needed to better prosecute and deter illegal robocalls. It would also give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more flexibility to enforce rules in the short term while setting in motion consultations to increase prosecutions of violations, which often require international cooperation.

The TRACED Act  would:

  • Broaden the authority of the FCC to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.
  • Extend the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law the FCC has only one year to do so and the FCC has reported that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
  • Bring together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.
  • Require providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
  • Direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.

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