WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect consumers by cracking down on unwanted corporate robocalls and “spam” callers, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to provide regulators and prosecutors with enhanced tools to track, prosecute, and fine for-profit robocallers.

Senator Reed is a cosponsor of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151), which would require phone companies to verify where phone calls are coming from and let consumers block them at no additional cost.  The Reed-backed bill also provides law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with new tools to investigate and take action against illegal robocalling operations.

“I have long advocated for cracking down on unwanted, predatory profit seeking robocalls and this bipartisan bill will help to reduce these intrusive spam calls and crack down on those who violate the law,” said Senator Reed, who helped pass a version of the TRACED Act through the U.S. Senate in May, which served as the basis of this bipartisan, compromise agreement.  “The Senate should quickly take up and pass this bill to hang up on scammers and prevent consumers, hospitals, and other businesses from being bombarded with unwanted, predatory calls.”

Harassing robocalls have become a growing problem.  Indeed, according to the YouMail Robocall Index, Rhode Islanders received 11.5 million robocalls last month (November 2019).  The report also states that Americans received an estimated 47.8 billion robocalls last year, an increase of 56.8% over the estimated 30.5 billion robocalls in 2017.

Several major carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon -- have indicated they'll adopt new strategies consistent with the TRACED Act, which the full U.S. Senate passed in May.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 417-3 to pass its version of the TRACED Act.

Senator Reed says he hopes the full U.S. Senate will vote on the measure this week so it can be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law before the holidays.

Summary of the TRACED Act:

Requires carriers to offer call-authentication technology to consumers and small businesses at no additional charge;

Ensures the FCC has the authority to take action to track down robocallers violating the law and requires the FCC to make periodic reports to Congress;

Requires the FCC to work to stop one-ring scams;

Requires opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking be offered at no additional charge to consumers;

Extends the statute of limitations and increases fines for robocallers violating the law.