Tim Kaine cosponsors bill to crack down on illegal robocall scams

tim kaineU.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA) to cosponsor the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

With the increasing numbers of robocall scams, the 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.

“Americans are fed up with fraudulent robocalls that inundate their phones every day,” said Kaine. “This bill would provide the resources necessary to hold people behind these robocall scams accountable and protect potential victims.”

The TRACED Act would:

  • Broaden 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.
  • Extend the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to do so. The FCC has told the Senate Commerce Committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
  • Bring together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 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.
  • Require voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
  • Direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers.

As one report estimated, the number of spam calls will grow from nearly 30 percent of all phone calls last year to 45 percent of all calls this year. The TRACED Act would give the FCC more flexibility to enforce rules in the short term, while setting in motion consultations to increase prosecutions of violations, which often require international cooperation.

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