(Wednesday), the U.S. House of Representatives passed Axne-sponsored legislation to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will better protect consumers, businesses and vulnerable Iowans from the daily onslaught of robocalls. This legislation directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take regulatory action to improve call authentication, prevent robocalls, and ensure phone providers offer robocall blocking services to consumers free of charge. To strengthen enforcement, the bill increases maximum penalties and extends the statute of limitations for the FCC to go after bad actors.
“Nearly half of all calls placed to cell phones this year will be scam calls. Iowans are sick and tired of illegal and unwanted robocalls.” said Rep. Axne. “This legislation is a necessary step to protect all Iowans, especially vulnerable communities such as our seniors.”
Specifically, the legislation amends the Communication Act of 1934 to clarify the definition of a robocall and directs the FCC to protect consumers by (1) establishing a nationwide database of consumer telephone numbers that have been reassigned, 2) directing phone providers to implement effective call authentication technology to other consumers, (3) extending the statute of limitations for enforcement, and (4) convening an interagency working group to better coordinate federal resources. The bill also improves accountability by requiring the FCC report on complaints received, citations and penalties issued, as well as its progress on efforts to stop robocalls – including a reassigned number database and call tracing.
Over 25 billion robocalls were estimated to have been placed last year, and unwanted robocalls continue to be a top complaint for consumers. In 2018, the FCC received 232,000 complaints about robocalls and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 3,790,000 complaints about robocalls. While legitimate businesses and institutions use robocalls to convey urgent, important information – like school closures and utility service outages – the quick and cost-effective nature of robocalls also invites abuse by scammers and fraudsters. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act will address an issue that continues to waste valuable time and resources for Iowans.