Smucker Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Robocalls

April 3, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill to deter robocalls in the U.S.  

H.R. 2015, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would require call identity validation and cut down on spoofed calls.

The legislation would also increase civil penalties for robocallers, allowing the FCC to implement penalties of up to $10,000 per call for those who intentionally disregard telemarketing restrictions. 

“Spam calling has gotten seriously out of hand,” Smucker said. “Day after day, too many Americans receive countless phone calls from suspicious numbers. Not only are these calls a nuisance but they are also dangerous since wrongdoers can prey on vulnerable people and commit crimes with their information.” 

Americans were hit with 26.3 billion robocalls in 2018, a 46 percent increase from the previous year. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) receives over 200,000 complaints of robocalls each year – and as a result has made stopping the scourge of illegal robocalls and caller ID spoofing schemes one of its top priorities.

Last year, the FCC imposed a record $120 million fine on a Miami man for making 96 million robocalls during a three-month period, offering callers travel services to Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida. The FCC discovered the man had nothing to do with these companies and was committing wire fraud.  

“Upstate New Yorkers are inundated around the clock with intrusive, unwanted robocalls,” said Brindisi. “At best these calls are a nuisance; at worst, a costly financial fraud. People should be able to answer their phones without worrying that they could fall victim to the latest scam. Knocking out annoying robocallers is one area Republicans and Democrats can agree, and I’m glad to join Reps. Smucker and Kustoff in introducing the TRACED Act to find a solution to this growing problem.”

 “I have heard from countless people throughout Tennessee’s 8th district who are tired of the endless stream of harassing robocalls. To put an end to this scourge of calls, my bill, the TRACED Act, would give Americans much-needed relief by requiring caller authentication and deterring bad actors from placing these calls in the first place, said Kustoff. “These robocalls are infringing on the everyday lives of Americans, and I urge my colleagues to swiftly pass this vital piece of legislation and put an end to these scams.”

The bill also extends the FCC window to catch robocallers from one year to three years after a robocall is placed. The legislation has been endorsed by Attorneys General in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and has been endorsed by industry stakeholders.

“Whichever side of the aisle you’re on, I think we all can agree robocalls are endlessly irritating,” Smucker said. “I urge my colleagues to pass this commonsense measure and put an end to this frustrating practice once and for all.”

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Senate companion bill (S. 151), which has 22 bipartisan cosponsors.