Senator Markey and Congressman Pallone Introduce Legislation to Stop Robocalls
An estimated 18 billion unwanted calls were placed in the U.S. in 2017
Washington (June 7, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today introduced the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act to stop abusive robocall practices. Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives today, as well. Senator Markey’s bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact strong consumer protections for authorized calls and empower the FCC with strong enforcement tools to reign in robocallers.
“Whether at home or on their mobile phones, consumers should not be subject to intrusive and unsolicited calls,” said Senator Markey, the author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. “While telephone technology has changed, that key goal has not. I am proud to join Ranking Member Pallone in introducing this legislation, clarifying the FCC’s obligation to strengthen the precious zone of privacy and control that has protected consumers from unwanted calls and texts for decades.”
Last year, an estimated 18 billion unwanted calls were placed in the United States, which represents a 76 percent increase in unwanted calls over the previous year. The staggering number of unwanted calls are returning huge profit margins for robocallers with every dollar spent by robocallers returning as much as $20 profit—a 2,000 percent profit margin. Though some robocalls are initiated by legitimate companies, robocalls are also used by scammers to steal from consumers, with more than 22 million Americans losing a total of $9.5 billion in robocall scams in 2016 alone.
“There is nothing more annoying than repeatedly getting unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to,” said Congressman Pallone. “Despite previous efforts like the Do Not Call Registry, robocalls are on the rise. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will better restrict unauthorized robocalls by providing consumer protection agencies with new tools designed to stop the abusive practices robocallers are employing.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would curb the rise of robocalls by:
- Amending the TCPA to ensure that the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when they track down robocallers;
- Allowing consumers to revoke consent they’d previously given to receive calls at any time and in any reasonable manner;
- Creating a reassigned number database to put robocallers on notice when a telephone number they may have previously been authorized to call has been given to a new customer who hasn’t authorized their call;
- Limiting the number of robocalls exempted from the TCPA under the FCC’s rules;
- Requiring calls to have verified caller identification information associated with a call before the call can be put through; and
“Senator Markey and Congressman Pallone’s bill will impact the daily lives of hundreds of millions of American consumers by addressing the escalating robocall problem,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. “As the FCC responds to requests to clarify existing rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, this legislation provides a framework to ensure that the rules will put consumers’ interests first.”
“Despite the Do Not Call List and other steps that have been taken to combat robocalls, the plague of these annoying, invasive calls only continues to get worse,” said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Consumers have had enough of being harassed by robocalls, which all-too often are also vehicles for illegal scams that cost consumers millions. Consumers Union is pleased to support the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which will guarantee important legal protections to reduce the hassle of robocalls, including protecting consumers from the troublesome ‘spoofed’ calls that make robocall-blocking and enforcement efforts so challenging. We applaud Senator Markey and Congressman Pallone for their leadership and look forward to working with them to pass this legislation that will make a real difference in consumers’ everyday lives,”