Young Cosponsors Bill to Crack Down on Illegal Robocall Scams
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) announced today that he is cosponsoring the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151) to crack down on illegal robocall scams. The legislation, which was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.
“Hoosiers are fed up with the increasing number of robocall scams that are flooding their phones. I have heard from scores of Hoosiers that receive illegal robocalls on a daily basis, many receiving more than 10 a day. These calls are more than just an annoyance, they are a real threat to the vulnerable people they are designed to prey on,” said Senator Young. “As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I will be working with my colleagues to advance this legislation and bring accountability to those who participate in these illegal schemes.”
Summary of the TRACED Act:
- Broadens the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.
- Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to do so, and the FCC has told the committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
- Brings together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.
- Requires voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
- Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers.
In 2018, the Senate Commerce Committee, heard testimony under subpoena from Adrian Abramovich, the president of a now defunct company called Marketing Strategy Leaders. Abramovich, who has since been assessed a $120 million fine by the FCC for making nearly 100 million robocalls between 2015 and 2016, 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.
The TRACED Act would give the FCC more flexibility to enforce rules in the short term, while setting in motion consultations to increase prosecutions of violations, which often require international cooperation.
Click here to view a one-pager on the TRACED Act.
Click here to view the bill text.
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