Senators urge FCC to police robocalls

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NATIONAL (WCIA) — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are urging the Federal Communications Commission to slash the number of robocalls Americans receive. Robocallers made 172 million calls to just residents in Illinois during August.

The senators sent a letter to the FCC’s chairman pressing him to “enhance traceback efforts to bring these scammers to justice, stop this illicit robocall traffic, and prioritize enforcing the laws already on the books.” “As top-cop on the beat in the fight against robocalls, preventing these calls falls squarely within the Commission’s purview,” Durbin and Duckworth wrote.

In April, Durbin and Duckworth, along with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), introduced the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act, a bill that would help end the plague of illegal robocalls in America. The bill would give landline and cellular consumers alike the ability to petition for statutory damages for all unconsented-to telemarketing calls immediately after the first violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

In May, the Senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, known as the TRACED Act. The legislation, cosponsored by Durbin and Duckworth, would address the scourge of robocalls by increasing fines on violators of the TCPA and directing phone service providers to implement call authentication technology, which can reasonably predict whether an inbound call is from a spoofed number.

Americans received a record 48 billion robocalls in 2018. Robocalls have become a widespread annoyance, but are also costing consumers billions of dollars. In 2016, 22 million Americans lost more than $9.5 billion to robocall scams that mainly target the most vulnerable in society, like senior citizens, immigrants, and people living with disabilities. Despite repeated legislative efforts, regulatory enforcement actions, and the proliferation of call-blocking mobile applications, the scourge of robocalls continues to plague everyday Americans at alarming rates.

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