Congress Passes Hoeven-Cosponsored Legislation to Enhance FCC & Telephone Carrier Action Against Illegal Robocalls

Bipartisan Bill Aligns with North Dakota Resolution, Goes to President to Be Signed into Law

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after Congress passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, bipartisan legislation he cosponsored to help deter illegal and unsolicited robocalls. The legislation aligns with a resolution passed by the North Dakota legislature calling for a solution to the unwanted calls, as well as the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) actions earlier this year to stop illegal calls, including a proposal encouraging telecommunications companies to block unwanted calls by default. The bill has now passed both the House and the Senate and will go to the president to be signed into law.

“This legislation will better enable the FCC to take effective action against illegal robocalls while also promoting technology to help ensure calls are legitimate,” said Hoeven. “These calls go beyond mere annoyance, with offenders attempting to scam and defraud people in North Dakota and across our nation. Our bill provides important tools to address this widespread issue, and we will continue working with the administration to make sure consumers are adequately protected.”

While most businesses that use prerecorded messages and automated dialing systems are legitimate, many robocalls are scams and are intended to defraud the recipient. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 4.5 million complaints regarding robocalls in 2017.

In order to help combat this issue, the TRACED Act would:

  • Increase the FCC’s maximum penalty for those who intentionally violate telemarketing restrictions to $10,000 per call, up from $1,500.
  • Extend the window for the FCC to take civil action against offenders.
  • Promote call authentication technology to allow telephone carriers to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before reaching consumers’ phones.
  • Direct the FCC to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.
  • Bring together federal, state and local authorities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams.