Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

House Passes Buchanan-Backed Bill to Silence Robocalls

Jul 24, 2019
Press Release
“Spoofing” Hides Caller’s True Location, Tricks People into Picking Up. Millions of Unwanted Calls Hit Sarasota, Manatee counties. Legislation Supported by AARP

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House today passed legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan to crack down on illegal robocalls that victimize millions of Americans each year.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would toughen penalties and require telecom service providers to adopt call authentication technology. Earlier this year the U.S. Senate passed similar legislation called the TRACED Act, also co-sponsored by Buchanan, to crack down on illegal robocalls.

“Floridians continue to be harassed by an onslaught of illegal robocalls,” Buchanan said. “These are more than just a minor inconvenience – phone scams can defraud innocent Americans out of their life savings – especially vulnerable seniors. I applaud House passage of this important bill and call on the Senate to quickly follow suit and send this bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”

Last year, robocalls increased by 46% as nearly 48 billion were placed in the U.S. The majority of consumer complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission relate to unwanted calls, many of which maliciously hide or disguise the caller’s identity and location. These illegal calls often are from phone numbers that appear similar to those they’re targeting, known as “spoofing.” These fraudulent calls comprised roughly a quarter of the 26 billion robo-calls placed to U.S. mobile numbers last year, according to one industry estimate.

The bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which is officially endorsed by the AARP, allows regulators to swiftly track down scammers and extend the statue of limitations by up to four years to give the FCC adequate time to prosecute illegal robocallers. It also requires phone companies, like Verizon and AT&T, to upgrade their caller ID systems to notify customers if a call is coming from a legitimate number.  

Area code 941, which covers most of Florida’s 16th congressional district, received over 44 million scam robocalls in 2018. During the same year, area code 813, also included in the 16th district, received over 104 million scam robocalls.  

“Nearly one in five Americans over 65 have been fraud victims,” Buchanan continued, adding he is optimistic the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will be passed by the Senate this year.It is now on the Senate to help Americans counter this serious issue by holding a vote on this important bill.”

Buchanan represents over 220,000 seniors in the nation’s eighth-oldest congressional district.