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Pallone Reintroduces Bill to Stop Robocalls

Feb 4, 2019
Press Release
An Estimated 26.3 Billion Unwanted Calls Were Placed in the U.S. in 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (HR 946) in the House of Representatives to stop abusive robocall practices.

Pallone’s bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact strong consumer protections for authorized calls and empower the FCC with strong enforcement tools to reign in robocallers.  The legislation would also ensure that consumers have the ability to stop calls they’d previously authorized and require incoming calls to have authentic caller identification information before they are delivered to customers.

“Americans are fed up with robocalls.  It is incredibly annoying to repeatedly get unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to,” Pallone said.  “Despite previous efforts like the Do Not Call Registry, robocalls are still on the rise. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will equip consumer protection agencies with innovative, new tools designed to stop the abusive practices by robocallers and better restrict unauthorized robocalls.”

Last year, an estimated 26.3 billion unwanted calls were placed in the U.S., which represents a 46 percent increase in unwanted calls over the previous year.  The staggering number of unwanted calls are returning huge profit margins for robocallers, with every dollar spent by robocallers returning as much as $20 profit—a 2,000 percent profit margin.  Though some robocalls are initiated by legitimate companies, robocalls are also used by scammers to steal from consumers, with more than 22 million Americans losing a total of $9.5 billion in robocall scams in 2016 alone.

Pallone’s bill was also applauded by various consumer groups.

“The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will apply essential and meaningful consumer protections from unwanted robocalls if the FCC should fail to rein in robocalls from telemarketers and debt collectors, student loan servicers and others,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

“The robocalls problem is out of control and, without action from Congress, will only get worse.  This legislation would tackle the growing problem of "spoofed" calls that trick consumers into answering, by ensuring phone companies implement technology to stop these unwanted calls before they reach the consumer, at no additional cost.  Consumer Reports applauds Congressman Pallone for his leadership in addressing this growing problem,” said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst at Consumer Reports.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would curb the rise of robocalls by:

  • Amending the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to ensure that the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when they track down robocallers;
  • Allowing consumers to revoke consent they had previously given to receive calls at any time and in any reasonable manner;
  • Codifying a reassigned number database to put robocallers on notice when a telephone number they may have previously been authorized to call has been given to a new customer who has not authorized their call;
  • Limiting the number of robocalls exempted from the TCPA under the FCC’s rules;
  • Requiring calls to have verified caller identification information associated with a call before the call can be put through; and
  • Extending the statute of limitations from one year to four years for callers violating robocall prohibitions. 

Pallone’s bill is originally cosponsored by: Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Darren Soto (D-FL), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Charlie Crist (D-FL).

Section-by-Section available HERE.

Bill text available HERE.