NJ congressman wants to close robocall loopholes
There are 18 billion reasons why New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone has introduced legislation to increase the enforcement power of the Federal Communications Commission in the area of unwanted phone calls to consumers.
Pallone's bill, named the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, aims to curb the rise of robocalls that the Do Not Call Registry hasn't been able to address.
An estimated 18 billion of these calls were placed in the U.S. in 2017 — a 76 percent increase over the previous year. The country was home to more than 4 billion robocalls last month alone, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.
Some calls come from legitimate companies who follow the Do Not Call rules, but robocalls are also used by scammers looking to snag money or information from consumers. According to Pallone's office, robocallers bring in as much as $20 profit for every dollar spent on operations.
"The courts have actually struck down the FCC's definition of a robocall," Pallone said. "We're concerned now that if we don't pass legislation, a lot of robocalls will be allowed that wouldn't have been before."
Pallone, who cruised to victory in a Democratic primary race in the 6th District on Tuesday, introduced his act in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Similar legislation is in the Senate.
"We can broaden the definition of what is a robocall so some of the exemptions that have allowed these to come through will be plugged up," Pallone said.
Under the measure, consumers would be able to revoke consent they'd previously given to receive calls, and robocallers would be notified when a telephone number has been transferred from a customer who had previously authorized calls. Also, calls would have to be associated with a verified caller identification number before they can be put through.
The statute of limitations would be extended from one year to four years for callers violating robocall prohibitions.
"The problem is that the current law is not adequate," Pallone added. "Over the years, there's been more and more ways that companies have found to get around it."