Senators Shaheen, Hassan Cosponsor Bipartisan TRACED Act to Crack Down on Illegal Robocall Scams

April 19, 2019

WASHINGTON – Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan recently cosponsored bipartisan legislation to address the increasing number of robocall scams targeting Granite Staters and Americans.  The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties on those caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to evaluate policies and resources needed to better prosecute and deter illegal robocalls.

As one report estimated, the number of spam calls will grow from 29 percent of all phone calls in 2018 to 45 percent of all calls this year. The TRACED Act would give the Federal Communications Commission (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. The legislation was introduced by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and John Thune (R-SD).

“For too long, Granite Staters have been inundated with illegal, disruptive robocalls. It’s time for Congress to take action and put an end to these scams,” Senator Shaheen said. “I’m glad to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that will protect consumers and enhance enforcement against aggressive solicitation schemes.”

“As robocalls become increasingly common, we need to give state and federal officials better tools to go after scammers,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan legislation will help strengthen consumer protections and better hold scammers accountable.”

Last year, both Shaheen and Hassan cosponsored the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act, which would lengthen the statute of limitations for pursuing robocall violations.

Summary of the TRACED Act:

  • Broadens the authority of the FCC to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions. 
  • Extends 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 and the FCC has reported that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.
  • Brings together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, 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.
  • Requires providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
  • Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.