WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Deter Obnoxious, Nefarious, and Outrageous Telephone (DO NOT) Call Act, legislation to improve enforcement and enhance penalties for violations made under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Though the current statute outlaws initiating a robocall without the consent of an individual, these calls continue to surge. According to the 2019 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Robocall Report, there were over 5 billion robocalls initiated each month. These calls are generally illegal and are frequently used to defraud and scam elderly Americans. In March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that older adults were about 5 times more likely to report losing money on tech support scams.
“Most robocalls aren’t just unwanted and disruptive – they are illegal, and often target seniors and vulnerable Americans,” Klobuchar said. “Our legislation will give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on scammers and deter criminals from abusing robocalls.”
“Not only are robocalls a nuisance to Nevadans, they’re often used to target the most vulnerable in America and defraud seniors of their hard earned savings,” Cortez Masto said. “It’s time for Congress to act and put stronger penalties on those who would initiate illegal robocall scams that defraud Americans of their money.”
“Every single day, Americans across the country and throughout New York are inundated by deceitful, unwanted robocalls,” Schumer said. “These calls defraud Americans of billions of dollars each year, and often target the elderly and the vulnerable. This critical legislation will give law enforcement the resources they need to stop robocall predators and hold them accountable for their abuse.”
“Far too many people in New Hampshire and across the country are bombarded by robocalls that not only invade privacy and cause a nuisance, but also target the financial well-being of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Hassan said. “By improving law enforcement and enhancing penalties for those making illegal robocalls, this commonsense legislation will help protect people from such predatory calls.”
Specifically, the DO NOT Call Act creates a penalty specific to violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that could include up to one year in prison for any willful and knowing violation. The legislation would also increase the maximum penalty for civil and criminal fines from $10,000 to $20,000 for falsifying Caller ID.
Additionally, the DO NOT Call Act would further penalize those who commit an “aggravated” version of the offense, which would subject individuals to a maximum 3 year prison sentence. These aggravated offenses include:
- 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.
This bill is endorsed by Consumer Action. Full text of the bill is available HERE.
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 May, the Klobuchar-backed Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act passed in the Senate. The bipartisan legislation would increase penalties for fraudulent telemarketers, while also implementing measures to proactively protect consumers from receiving unwanted robocalls. In April 2018, Klobuchar joined members of the Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee to introduce the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act. The legislation, led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), would help the FCC remove barriers that prevent the agency from pursuing those who violate robocall 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.