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Menendez, Pallone Call on Senate to Pass Legislation to Combat Illegal Robocalls

Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) called on the Senate to immediately pass bipartisan legislation they’ve sponsored to stop the illegal, persistent and unwanted robocalls that harass Americans on a daily basis.  The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act passed the House by a vote of 417-3 last week.

In November 2019 alone, Americans received 5.2 billion illegal calls nationwide, including over 136.5 million in New Jersey.  Sen. Menendez received a robocall while holding a press conference when he first urged Congress to pass the TRACED Act back in April.

“Now that the House has passed the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act of 2019, the only thing stopping this bill from going to the President’s desk are Republicans in the U.S. Senate obstructing the legislative process for no good reason at all,” said Sen. Menendez.  “I don’t know anyone who likes these robocalls.  I don’t know anyone who says, ‘Please, can I have another, sir?’  On the contrary, I am constantly hearing from constituents who are sick and tired of these endless robocalls and want Congress to do something about it.”

“These calls are not just annoying, in a lot of instances they are scams targeted at consumers. Unfortunately, these scams are becoming more sophisticated every day,” said Rep. Pallone. “While there won’t be a single silver bullet to fix them all, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act aggressively attacks the problem. I thank Senator Menendez for his leadership on this critical issue. It’s time for the Senate to pass this legislation and get it to the President’s desk for a signature.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regularly cite “unwanted and illegal robocalls” as their No. 1 complaint category from constituents. In FY 2018, the FTC received 3,790,614 complaints about robocalls. The FTC’s most recent data shows that in 2017 New Jersey residents made more complaints, per capita, than any other state with 321,393 complaints. Illegal robocallers are increasingly using technology to “spoof” caller-ID phone numbers, including from your own area or government agencies, and in rare cases from yourself.

Friday’s press conference was held at the RoboKiller headquarters in South Amboy. RoboKiller is an award-winning app that automatically blocks spam numbers so that customers aren’t harassed by unwanted calls.

“Increasingly, Americans are facing disruptive and at times dangerous spam calls. Robokiller’s technology helps millions of consumers battle against spammers every day and we appreciate Senator Menendez’s efforts to push the Pallone-Thune TRACED ACT into law.  We are committed to sharing our experience and working with legislators to help ensure consumers are victorious in the fight against spam calls,” said Ethan Garr, SVP at Teltech, the maker of Robokiller, which is operated by IAC.

In May, the Senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which Sen. Menendez cosponsored, by a vote of 97-1.  In July, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Pallone’s Stopping Bad Robocalls Act by an overwhelming vote of 429-3. The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act reconciles the differences between those two bills.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act:  

  • Requires carriers to offer call-authentication technology to everyone at no additional charge;
  • Requires Opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking be offered at no additional charge to consumers;
  • Gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the ability to step up enforcement actions against unlawful robocalls with a longer statute of limitations and increased fines in certain cases;
  • Pushes the Department of Justice to bring more criminal prosecutions against criminal robocallers;
  • Requires the FCC to work to stop one-ring scams;
  • Helps the FCC and responsible carriers traceback and cutoff suspect phone companies that are responsible for sending vast numbers of unlawful robocalls; and
  • Protects patients, doctors and hospitals from unlawful robocalls.

“This bill gives the public the tools we need to stop these unwanted and, in many cases, illegal and harassing calls, which too often prevent us from receiving and responding to the essential calls we need to manage our personal business,” said Jerome Montes, Communications Director, New Jersey Citizen Action.

“AARP has a long history as a consumer advocate. Through our Fraud Watch Network initiative, we work to empower consumers to protect themselves and their families from scams,” said AARP NJ Director of Advocacy, Evelyn Liebman. “Con artists frequently use illegal robocalls to deceive victims into paying money under false pretenses. On behalf of our nearly 38 million members including our 1.3 members in the Garden State, and all older Americans nationwide, we commend Congressman Pallone and Senator Menendez for their leadership on this issue.  All New Jerseyans, indeed all Americans will benefit from the safety provisions of the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act.”

Sen. Menendez has been a leader in Congress in fighting to enforce “Do Not Call” and stop illegal, unwanted phone calls. In April and June of 2018, he separately called on the FCC to establish protections for consumers from unwanted and harassing robocalls and robotexts. The Senator repeatedly pressed the FCC in 2017 to take aggressive action to increase robocall enforcement, protect consumers from invasive “ringless” voicemails, and end the harassing phone calls. In 2015, Sen. Menendez cosponsored the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANGUP) Act and urged Pay-Pal to change its user agreement that forces consumers to accept unwanted phone calls.

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There are 2 Comments to "Menendez, Pallone Call on Senate to Pass Legislation to Combat Illegal Robocalls"

  • Dovid says:

    These laws do absolutely nothing. We already have do not call lists that these companies simply ignore. These companies operate as LLC’s. They send their traffic through international gateways which makes it harder to trace. Even if they are caught and fined they simply fold the LLC and open a new one. The only way to enforce this is to have the carriers come up with a solution. They are in no rush since they are making lots of money for every call that reaches their rework. This is nothing more then a feel good law and politics 101.

  • Jimmy says:

    They have been pushing legislation for the past 20 years. We see how effective it is today. These political hacks do their best work asleep.

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