WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in introducing the Deter Obnoxious, Nefarious, and Outrageous Telephone Calls Act or the DO NOT Call Act of 2018, legislation that will improve enforcement and enhance penalties for violations made under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Initiating a robocall without consent of an individual is outlawed under the TCPA, which permits the FCC to issue fines and victims to pursue civil action in court. However, violators can set up shell companies designed to evade monetary fines and as technology has made it easier to make robocalls, illegal calls have skyrocketed in recent years. They are frequently used to defraud and scam mostly elderly Americans. In addition to Klobuchar, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Maggie Hassan and (D-NH) are also original cosponsors of the bill.
“Most robocalls aren’t just unwanted and disruptive – they are illegal,” Klobuchar said. “Worse still, they often target seniors, who can lose their entire life savings to fraudulent cons. By giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on scammers, we can hold those criminals accountable.”
The DO NOT Call Act is endorsed by Consumer Action and would:
- Create a penalty specific to violations of the TCPA that includes up to one year in prison for any willful and knowing violation and, on top of this, includes an “aggravated” version of the offense which can include up to three years in prison.
- An aggravated offense is defined as:
- a previous conviction under the section;
- an offense involving more than 100,000 violations in a day, 1,000,000 in a month, or 10,000,000 in a year;
- the offense was committed in furtherance of a felony;
- the offense caused loss to 1 or more persons aggregating $5,000 in a year.
- Raise the maximum penalty for civil forfeiture and criminal fines from $10,000 to $20,000 per violation for falsifying Caller ID.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers from robocalls, ticket bots, unauthorized charges on their phone bills, and deceptive practices by fraudulent online travel booking websites. In April, Klobuchar joined members of the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee to introduce the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2018. The legislation, led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), would help the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prosecute removing barriers that prevent the FCC from pursuing those who violate these rules. In 2015, Klobuchar called on the FCC to implement “Do Not Disturb” technology to block telemarketing and unwanted robocalls on both landline and wireless phones.