Spanberger Passes Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Robocalls, Protect Consumers from Scams

In November 2019, Virginians Received More Than 141 Million Robocalls

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation to crack down on unwanted and illegal robocalls.

Between 2016 and 2018, U.S. consumers saw an estimated 64 percent increase in unwanted robocalls. Last month alone, Virginians received more than 141 million robocalls—nearly 19 robocalls per person by the end of November. These calls can cost Virginians time and money, put people at risk of scams, significantly disrupt important communications, and undermine public trust in the nation’s telecommunications systems.

The bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would help end dangerous and disruptive automated calls. Specifically, the legislation would require telephone companies to implement caller authentication systems and give consumers and service providers the power to block unauthenticated calls. The bill would also give law enforcement and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the tools they need to deter scam calls and investigate robocallers that break the law.

“In Virginia, we’ve seen a drastic uptick of annoying and abusive robocalls. These calls are more than a nuisance—they can lead to identity theft, block emergency operations, or spread fraudulent information to seniors,” said Spanberger. “Today, I joined Republicans and Democrats in passing a bipartisan bill that would help identify unwanted callers, give officials additional leeway to hold telemarketers accountable, and prevent future phone scams. We should all be able to agree on achieving these goals—and at a time of rampant robocall activities in Central Virginia and across the country, I hope the Senate will move quickly to advance this much-needed legislation. ”

The TRACED Act includes a provision to make sure telephone service providers don’t pass on the cost of new authentication technologies to consumers. Additionally, the bill would increase the FCC’s civil penalties against robocallers to up to $10,000 per call. And as robocall scams continue to grow across the country, the legislation would strengthen civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught perpetuating these schemes.

Spanberger has continued to push back against unsolicited robocalls. Earlier this year, Spanberger helped pass the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which was merged with a U.S. Senate version of the legislation to create the TRACED Act.

The TRACED Act is led by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) in the U.S. House and U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) in the U.S. Senate.

Click here to read the full bill text.

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