Georgia’s U.S. Senators voted in favor of bipartisan legislation to combat illegal robocalls on Thursday.
Both Johnny Isakson and David Perdue voted YEA on the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, S.151, which would give regulators more time to find scammers, increase penalties for those who are caught, promote call authentication technology, and bring relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address delays in the criminal prosecution of robocallers.
“It’s great to see the Senate work on a bipartisan basis to pass the TRACED Act, which will provide relief for Americans by reducing the number of unsolicited calls and holding the perpetrators of abusive scams accountable,” Isakson said in a press release. “I hope the House will move forward quickly to get it to the president’s desk.”
Companion legislation awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to a press release issued by Isakson’s office, the TRACED Act would:
- Broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people 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 told the committee 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, 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 voice service providers 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.
The TRACED Act is supported by all 50 state attorneys general, board members of the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission, and a number of other industry associations and consumer advocacy organizations.
U.S. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., led the legislation in the Senate. Full text of the legislation is available here.
To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List at www.donotcall.gov. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.
The FCC has provided consumer tips to stop unwanted robocalls and avoid phone scams online at: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-robocalls-and-texts.