*Update* On December 19, 2019, Congress voted YES to turn the tide on illegal robocalls! Now the bills to the President for signature.
Tired of those annoying robocalls that look like their coming from your next door neighbor? Or the calls that have no identifying information at all? They are selling everything from timeshares to alarm systems and everything in between. Well, help could be on the way for millions of consumers plagued by these robocalls.
In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) received 232,000 consumer complaints of unwanted calls, a nearly 35 percent increase since 2015.
The TRACED Act, also known as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, has recently been re-introduced into the United States Congress and could be gaining steam. The main provision of the bill will require voice service providers — telecom companies — to use call authentication technology. So those robocalls you’ve been receiving with no ID — would essentially be outlawed. If the bill passes, telecom companies will have approximately 18 months to adopt the necessary technology and comply with the requirements of the TRACED Act.
Other provisions of the TRACED Act would allow for expanded civil penalties — up to $10,000 per call – that could be levied by the Federal Communications Commission. It will also extend the time period to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations from one year to three years. In addition, it will require a long list of federal and state government entities, including the Department of Justice, FCC and Federal Trade Commission to identify ways and report on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams.
Despite the fact that the FCC has been able to levy fines in the past as a deterrent to telemarketing companies — including levying one of the largest fines in its history last year — $120 million against one telemarketing agency — robocalls dramatically increased last year. This fact only highlights the need for the new TRACED Act to become law to protect consumers from receiving unwanted and deceptive calls and texts.