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senate Bill S. 151

Should Federal Agencies Coordinate Efforts to Crack Down on Robocall Scams?

Argument in favor

Robocall scams are on the rise, endangering customers. Improving federal agencies’ coordination of efforts to combat these crimes will protect vulnerable customers and ensure that perpetrators of these crimes are found and punished.

Steve519's Opinion
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05/23/2019
Why haven't they already? Oh yeah, that's right, the FCC is owned by special interest groups and lead by an assclown.
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Carole's Opinion
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05/23/2019
I am not answering my phone anymore because of these robocalls now. I ask myself ,”why have a phone?”
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Terry's Opinion
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05/23/2019
We get from 10 to 25 a day. It is ridiculous. We need for this to stop
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Argument opposed

The FCC is already cracking down on robocall scams. There’s no need for this bill, or for an interagency working group that’ll cost numerous agencies’ time and effort to convene.

tituswife's Opinion
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05/23/2019
My state recently enacted a law to make this illegal. Cut those calls down by 90%! Call your state representatives.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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05/23/2019
First of all I don’t want a government run phone company. The FCC & FTC should be on the backs of every phone company mandating secure phone systems. We pay good money for a landline and cellular phones. It is up to the phone companies to stop ROBO calls. We pay for that service so where is it?
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Adam's Opinion
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05/23/2019
I think that the action should be taken to educate the public. Don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize unless you’re expecting a call, verify online about potential scams if you’re suspicious about a message, etc
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • The senate Passed May 23rd, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 97 Yea / 1 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedJanuary 16th, 2019

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What is Senate Bill S. 151?

This bill — the TRACED Act — would crack down on illegal robocall scams by giving the relevant federal agencies more time and resources to find and prosecute scammers and increasing civil forfeiture penalties for these crimes.

Specifically, this bill would:

  • Broaden the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority 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 from one year (under current law) by at least another year;
  • Bring the FCC, Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Commerce Dept., State Dept., Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities, together 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 within 18 months of this bill’s enactment, and require the FCC to assess this technology’s implementation and efficacy;
  • Direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers; and
  • Direct the FCC to create a rule establishing when a provider may block a voice call based on information provided by the call authentication framework as well as a process for adversely affected calling parties to verify their calls’ authenticity.

The FCC would also be required to initiate a proceeding to determine whether its policies regarding access to number resources could be modified to help reduce access to numbers by potential robocall violators.

This bill’s full title is the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

Impact

Phone customers; robocalls; robocall scams; voice service providers; FCC; DOJ; FTC; Commerce Dept.; State Dept.; DHS; CFPB; and state attorneys general.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 151

The CBO estimates that this bill would cost the FCC $1 million over the 2019-2024 period to implement. However, because the FCC can collect fees to offset its regulatory costs, the CBO estimates that the net cost would be negligible.

More Information

In-DepthSen. John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to crack down on illegal robocall scams

“Robocall scams are more than just a nuisance to folks, they’re a shameful tactic to prey on the vulnerable. The TRACED Act holds those people who participate in robocall scams and intentionally violate telemarketing laws accountable and does more to proactively protect consumers who are potential victims of these bad actors.”

Attorneys general from 54 states and territories sent a letter of support for this bill, and all Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioners, major industry associations, and leading consumer groups have expressed their support for this bill. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says:

“I’m grateful to Senators Thune and Markey for re-introducing the TRACED Act.  This legislation would make it easier for the FCC to track and take down illegal robocall scams and require the private sector to verify that the calls consumers receive are legitimate.  I have made cracking down on unwanted and illegal robocalls our top consumer protection priority at the FCC, and we stand ready to work with Congress to tackle this issue head on.”

Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) President and CEO Meredith Attwall Baker says:

“We applaud Senators Thune and Markey for reintroducing the TRACED Act. Aggressive enforcement is key to combatting illegal and unwanted robocalls. CTIA and its members have implemented a multifaceted approach including new applications and network-based tools and industry initiatives. This is an issue we take seriously, and we commend this bipartisan legislation for enhancing the FCC’s authority to protect American consumers by going after bad actors and acknowledging the importance of industry’s efforts to adopt and implement call authentication.”

Observing the broad support for their bill, Sen. Thune and original cosponsor Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said:

“The overwhelming groundswell of support for the TRACED Act confirms what millions of consumers across the country already know – the scourge of invasive and intrusive spoofed robocalls has reached epidemic levels, and it’s time to hang up on these fraudsters once and for all. Our legislation will establish meaningful protections to authenticate and block spoofed calls, while also giving federal regulators more flexibility to pursue and penalize scammers. We thank the bipartisan coalition of FCC Commissioners, FTC Commissioners, consumer groups, and industry stakeholders for their support, and look forward to the quick consideration of the TRACED Act in Congress.”

This bill unanimously passed the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee with the support of 84 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including 42 Democrats, 40 Republicans, and two Independents. A House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN), has 30 bipartisan cosponsors, including 24 Republicans and six Democrats.

In the 115th Congress, this bill had three bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat, and didn’t receive a committee vote. A House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), didn’t have any cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteIn 2018, the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony from Adrian Abramovich, then-president of a now-defunct company called Marketing Strategy Leaders. Abramovich described a telemarketing operation as rather easy to put together and nimble, thus making enforcement difficult. His identification by the FCC and assessment of civil penalties raised questions for the committee about the lack of criminal prosecution for offenders caught intentionally and repeatedly violating telemarketing laws.

In a fall 2018 report, First Orion, a leading provider of phone call and data transparency solutions, found a dramatic increase in scam calls to mobile phones, from 3.7% of total calls in 2017 to 29.2% in 2018. Furthermore, First Orion projected that figure to continue growing, up to 44.6% by early 2019.

The FTC has taken a range of enforcement against robocallers recently. In 2018, the agency fined Adrian Abramovich $120 million — the largest fine it’d ever levied — for malicious spoofing related to a robocall scheme.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Tero Vesalainen)

AKA

TRACED Act

Official Title

A bill to deter criminal robocall violations and improve enforcement of section 227(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, and for other purposes.

    Why haven't they already? Oh yeah, that's right, the FCC is owned by special interest groups and lead by an assclown.
    Like (113)
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    Share
    My state recently enacted a law to make this illegal. Cut those calls down by 90%! Call your state representatives.
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    I am not answering my phone anymore because of these robocalls now. I ask myself ,”why have a phone?”
    Like (69)
    Follow
    Share
    We get from 10 to 25 a day. It is ridiculous. We need for this to stop
    Like (51)
    Follow
    Share
    If there is anything we can all agree on it’s this. Everyone hates robocalls.
    Like (30)
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    Please crack down on Robocalls. I get at least 4-5 every hour. And if I block a number, it just switches to a new bot caller.
    Like (17)
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    Nothing we are doing now is working. DoNotCall.gov has become useless, and they more or less have thrown up their hands. I used to file complaints against companies weekly, all to no avail. And huge monetary fines do not work. These scam companies just build the cost into their budgets as the cost of doing business. And it’s not just that they are a nuisance and scam vulnerable people. As a senior citizen, I have fallen rushing to answer a phone thinking it was an important phone call I was waiting for. These companies prey on vulnerable people. Stop them any way you are able, especially criminalizing their tactics.
    Like (17)
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    Robot calls are an invasion of privacy.
    Like (17)
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    This is a necessity! I receive multiple calls everyday. This would be a relief to be rid of these calls.
    Like (16)
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    These call are out of control and it hurts legitimate businesses who are trying to conduct business over the phone.
    Like (15)
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    My phone is now a source of harassment and abuse by companies and people who have nothing better to do than scam people. I am on federal and state Do No Call Lists. I have Nomorobo on landline and True caller on cell phone, but continue to receive these calls. I also have an unlisted number. I have resorted to not answering the phone, at all, unless I know specifically who is calling.
    Like (13)
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    Yes or even enforcing existing laws and regulations.
    Like (13)
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    OH, Hell Y. E. S. ‼️ Why in the World Would I Be Getting Calls From 💥China💥Burma And Other Places 😠💥 🤷🏻‍♀️ Also After Receiving 27 + calls In One Day 🙄Dang Frigging Straight I Do and Others I Know would Appreciate Something Being Done Too 💥⚖️💥 Thank You
    Like (12)
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    Stop robocalls.
    Like (12)
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    First of all I don’t want a government run phone company. The FCC & FTC should be on the backs of every phone company mandating secure phone systems. We pay good money for a landline and cellular phones. It is up to the phone companies to stop ROBO calls. We pay for that service so where is it?
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    I think that the action should be taken to educate the public. Don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize unless you’re expecting a call, verify online about potential scams if you’re suspicious about a message, etc
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    Help protect those that pay your salary
    Like (10)
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    YES! These scams prey on the elderly and the vulnerable. The people responsible should serve very long prison sentences.
    Like (10)
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    Yes, I say prosecute bilking thieves. Right now (in Trumplandia) I might say hell, these crooks in Washington are flat raping John Q Public in front of all the world and they’re not in jail. So it turns out there are people above the law. ?? 👀 We need to fix this, Congress, robocall scams prey on the vulnerable. Thievery and greed needs to carry severe penalty.
    Like (8)
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    Absolutely, it’s getting waaay outta hand. The do not call list is a joke
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