Robocalls have become a plague for the American consumer, with some 54 billion being placed last year alone. Now, according to the International Business Times (IBT), the Senate has unanimously approved House-passed legislation aimed at combatting robocalls.
The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act is named for its sponsors, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. In passing the bill, lawmakers cited the nuisance to consumers, while also highlighting the life-threatening impact robocalls can have on hospitals.
“There are numerous stories of hospital telephone lines being flooded with robocalls, disrupting critical lines of communication for hours,” Thune said. “That can’t be allowed to go on.”
According to IBT, “the measure requires AT&T, Verizon and other phone companies to block robocalls for free and ensure calls are coming from real numbers. It also gives regulators more time to find and penalize scammers without having to issue warnings first.
“The Federal Communications Commission will be required to let Congress know about action being taken against robocalling operations and oversee companies tracking such calls. It also requires the Justice Department to prosecute more often.
“The FCC voted during the summer to allow carriers to block suspicious calls by default.
“The bill’s requirements are expected to take months to implement and do nothing to reduce calls from credit card companies, student lenders and other businesses who depend on such calls to generate business.”
While the bill’s backers say the its impact may not be noticeable immediately, as time goes on users will experience less calls.
The bill will now go to President Trump. According to The Hill, “Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) told reporters Thursday that the bill is likely to be ‘signed into law the next week or so.’”