WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151) by a vote of 97-1. It now heads to the House for consideration.
“Robocalls have plagued Americans for years. People no longer answer their phones if they do not recognize the number and, as a result, are missing important calls. This is all because scammers have hijacked our networks.” Wicker said. “The TRACED Act goes after these abusive and illegal robocallers and gives consumers, regulators, and law enforcement the tools to fight those taking advantage of the system. I am pleased to see so many of my colleagues from all corners of the nation coming together to partner with Senators Thune and Markey to pass this critical legislation. I urge the House to take up and vote for the TRACED Act and then send it to the President’s desk so we can stop the scourge of robocalls.”
Amidst ever-increasing numbers of robocall scams, the TRACED Act 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.
The bill is supported by attorneys general in all 50 states, by all current commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and by industry and consumer groups, including AARP. It was also the subject of a hearing entitled, “Illegal Robocalls: Calling All to Stop the Scourge.” In April of this year, the TRACED Act passed out of committee by voice vote.
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.
The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC, FTC and Department of Commerce.