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 was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month. The bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.
“Most people in this day and age know what it’s like to have their phone go off all day long because of annoying robocalls. These calls aren’t just an everyday nuisance — they can also perpetrate scams and often prey on the elderly. Even in the divisive times we have today, we can all agree that these incessant robocalls need to end, and I’m glad Congress was able to come to a bipartisan compromise to crack down on them,” Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he has worked to raise awareness of scams targeting the elderly and passed bipartisan legislation to protect taxpayers from being targets of tax-return fraud.
The TRACED Act gives regulators more time to find scammers and levy fines for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.
The TRACED Act would:
- Requires service providers to implement call authentication and blocking technologies free of charge for consumers and small businesses;
- Gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to step up enforcement actions against unlawful robocalls with a longer statute of limitations and increased fines in certain cases;
- Brings together 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 of robocall scams at the federal and state levels;
- Requires the FCC to establish partnerships to better inform efforts to protect consumers, including an advisory committee to develop best practices to combat unlawful robocalls made to hospitals and a consortium to trace the origins of illegal robocalls;
- Directs the FCC to protect consumers from one-ring scams, in which callers ring once and then hang up, attempting to trick the consumer into calling back and incurring hefty charges; and requires the FCC to report to Congress on enforcement and compliance progress.