Sarbanes Votes to Curb Robocalls and Crack Down on Abusive Telephone Scams

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375), a bipartisan bill that would require phone carriers to provide consumers with free call-authentication capabilities and call-blocking technology to help curtail unwanted robocalls.

“Today, Congress took bipartisan action to provide relief to Marylanders and Americans across the country who are constantly pestered by spam and sham robocalls,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “By providing people with the ability to authenticate inbound calls and block unwanted calls – all at no additional cost to the consumer – we can put an end to the nonstop contagion of junk robocalls.”

Last year, Americans received nearly 47.8 billion robocalls – an increase of 17 billion calls over the previous year.

Key provisions of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act include:

  • Requiring phone carriers to offer call-authentication technology – with no additional line-item charge for consumers – and helping rural carriers implement this technology;
  • Allowing carriers to offer call-blocking services to consumers – at no additional charge – with important transparency safeguards to ensure that important calls aren’t inadvertently blocked;
  • Directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue rules to protect consumers from calls they didn’t agree to receive and to make sure that consumers can withdraw consent;
  • Requiring the FCC to enact consumer safeguards that prevent companies from abusing robocall exemptions;
  • Ensuring the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when it tracks down robocallers by extending the statute of limitations from one year to as many as four years for callers violating robocall prohibitions; and
  • Mandating that the FCC submit a report to Congress on the implementation of its reassigned numbers database to ensure that the Commission is effectively protecting consumers from unwanted calls.