Senate Passes Buchanan-Backed Bill to Silence Robocalls
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate today passed legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan to crack down on illegal robocalls that victimize millions of Americans each year.
The TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act) would toughen penalties and require telecom service providers to adopt call authentication technology.
“Every day, Floridians are harassed by an onslaught of illegal robocalls,” Buchanan said. “These are more than just a minor nuisance – phone scams can defraud innocent Americans out of their life savings – especially vulnerable seniors. I applaud Senate passage of the TRACED Act and call on Speaker Pelosi to bring the bill for an immediate vote in the U.S. House.
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 TRACED Act allows regulators to swiftly track down scammers and penalize them with a fine up to $10,000 per call. 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 victimized by fraud,” Buchanan continued, adding he is optimistic the TRACED Act will be passed by the House this year. “It is now on Speaker Pelosi 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.
Fifty-four state and territory attorneys general have endorsed the TRACED Act, which was introduced in the House by Congressman David Kustoff (R-TN) and in the Senate by Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD).