CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A bill aimed at cracking down on pesky robocalls passed the House on Wednesday by a nearly unanimous vote of 417-3.
“We’re targeting fraudsters and scammers who are violating the law,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who introduced the bill.
If it becomes law, the TRACED Act would:
- Require phone companies to block robocalls at no extra cost to consumers.
- Violators could be fined up to $10,000 per call.
- The Federal Communications Commission would be required to deliver reports to Congress on what it is doing to stop illegal robocalls.
- The window the FCC has to find, catch and punish scammers would be extended.
- Call on phone carriers to adopt authentication technologies to ensure the calls you are getting are from real numbers.
Lawmakers say the measure would still allow important calls from unfamiliar numbers – from a doctor or pharmacist, for example – to still come through and not get blocked by mistake.
The goal is to help consumers trust their caller ID’s again.
Last month, 5.6 billion robocalls were made in the U.S., according to Robo Killer.
“I got one today already,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon). “And I imagine speaking here I’ll get five more. I’ll get targeted or something. It’s time to put consumers back in charge of their phones.”
The measure follows a voluntary agreement back in August between every state attorney general in the country and at least a dozen phone carriers. The agreement, spearheaded by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, pledged to expand anti-robocall efforts.
“To many of us it’s an annoyance but to others it’s their life savings,” Stein said back in August. “There is more the phone companies can do to protect us and shield us from these unwanted phone calls.”
You can read the bill here.