WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), introduced the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act, a bill that would help end the plague of illegal robocalls in America. Robocalls have become a widespread nuisance and are also costing consumers billions of dollars. Americans received a record 48 billion robocalls in 2018, and in 2016, 22 million Americans lost more than $9.5 billion to robocall scams that mainly target the most vulnerable in society, like senior citizens, immigrants, and people living with disabilities.

“Robocalls aren’t just annoying—Americans actually lose billions of dollars a year to robocall scams,” Klobuchar said. “Our new legislation will finally give consumers the ability to fight back by allowing them to petition for damages after receiving just one illegal robocall without their consent. It’s time to finally hang up on robocalls.”

“The onslaught of unwanted and abusive robocalls is on the rise, but populations that often bear the brunt of these scams, like older Americans, can face barriers in seeking recourse,” Smith said. “This bill improves consumers’ ability to fight robocalls, empowering everyone to take steps to deter and defend against the abusive practices of fraudulent telemarketers.”

“Like millions of Americans, I’ve experienced the nuisance of constant robocalls.  This is out of control and it’s up to Congress to do something about it,” Durbin said. “Consumers don’t deserve to be preyed upon by scammers that are just trying to undermine someone’s personal privacy and financial information.  It’s time to put an end to this.”

The Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act would enhance the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Do-Not-Call Registry by giving landline and cellular consumers alike the ability to petition for statutory damages for all unconsented-to telemarketing calls immediately after the first violation of the TCPA. 

The bill is supported by the National Consumer Law Center, Consumer Action, and the Consumer Federation of America.

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. Last month, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Klobuchar-backed Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act which would protect consumers from illegal robocalls by giving regulators more time to find scammers, increasing civil forfeiture penalties, and promoting call authentication and blocking adoption. 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.

Smith has consistently fought against robocalls during her tenure in the Senate. Earlier this year, Smith signed onto a letter urging FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to establish stronger protections to combat robocalls. Smith, like Klobuchar, is also a cosponsor of the TRACED Act.