Released: January 17, 2019
Consumer groups urge action on bill to stop “spoofed” robocalls
For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, DC — A bipartisan bill reintroduced today in the Senate will address the growing problem of “spoofed” robocalls that use fraudulent caller identification information to disguise the caller’s true identity.
Led by Senators Thune (R-S.D.) and Markey (D-Mass.), the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151) would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop rules requiring providers of telephone voice services to implement an effective framework for authenticating calls to better enable them to identify and stop unwanted calls before they reach the consumer. It would also increase potential civil forfeitures and criminal fines for intentional violations of the Telephone Consumer Privacy Act (TCPA).
Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumer Law Center welcomed the progress in the effort against unwanted robocalls.
“Unwanted robocalls harass Americans every day, too often with scams that take advantage of consumers, and yet phone companies drag their feet and fail to truly solve the problem,” said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst for Consumer Reports. “The TRACED Act takes an important step in ensuring that all phone companies implement technology that will help stop "spoofed" calls, a technique employed by scammers to foil robocall mitigation efforts. Consumer Reports supports this bipartisan effort to address the robocall problem.”
“Spoofed robocalls are the reason that consumers are unwilling to answer their phones these days,” said Consumer Action’s deputy director of national priorities, Ruth Susswein. “The TRACED Act is the kind of legislation that consumers have been waiting for—with tools to curb invasive robocalls, hold abusers accountable and help consumers block bad actors from their phone lines.”
“Once passed, this bill will help tens of millions of Americans reclaim the use of their telephones from the scourge of unwanted and fraudulent robocalls,” said Margot Saunders, senior policy counsel for the National Consumer Law Center. “On behalf of our low-income clients, we strongly support this bill and very much appreciate the efforts of Chairman Thune and Senator Markey to address the serious problem of caller-id spoofing.”
“Authenticating that a call is coming from the source that it purports to be is crucial in the fight against illegal robocalls, which often fraudulently spoof their caller ID,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “This bill will move carriers forward to implement call authentication and provide stronger enforcement tools to use against robocallers who flout the law.”
Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers since 1971. A national, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on financial education that empowers low to moderate income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers and regulators to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change particularly in the fields of consumer protection, credit, banking, housing, privacy, insurance and utilities. www.consumer-action.org
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.
Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has used its expertise in consumer law and energy policy to work for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the United States. NCLC’s expertise includes policy analysis and advocacy; consumer law and energy publications; litigation; expert witness services, and training and advice for advocates. NCLC works with nonprofit and legal services organizations, private attorneys, policymakers, and federal and state government and courts across the nation to stop exploitative practices, help financially stressed families build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness. www.nclc.org
The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education.