A new measure recently signed in to law by Pres. Donald Trump aims to crack down on illegal robocall scams by granting more time to locate scammers while increasing penalties for those convicted.
The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught, requires service providers to adopt call authentication and blocking, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally break laws.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner sponsored the Senate version of the bill, which passed in May in a 97 to 1 vote. After the House passed an amended version of the bill in early December, the Senate unanimously voted to send the bill to the President’s desk for signature.
“The President just signed this bi-partisan bill” that requires cell phone companies to verify legitimate calls, crack down on spammers and impose stricter penalties against the worst robocall offenders, Warner said.
Noting that Americans received 26 billion robocalls last year, Warner said he is glad the TRACED Act was a bi-partisan effort. “We agree, it is as annoying as anything,” he said of robocalls.
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 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.