On Thursday, the US Senate passed a modified version of bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) that gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those 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.
Senator Tillis previously co-sponsored the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act that passed in May. The House of Representatives passed a modified version of the bill by a vote of 417 to 3 on December 4th. It now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it into law.
“North Carolinians are sick and tired of having to deal with continuous and increasing robocalls and it is time to put an end to the unnecessary intrusion,” said Senator Tillis. “I have never met a single person who enjoys receiving these pestering calls, and I am proud Congress could come together on a bipartisan basis to pass this commonsense legislation and crackdown on illegal robocalls.”
Summary of the TRACED Act:
- Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to four 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 violators.
- Brings together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, 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.
- Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking process to protect consumers from “one-ring” scams.
- Requires the FCC to establish a working group to issue best practices to prevent hospitals from receiving illegal robocalls.