Find robocalls a nuisance? Evidently, so does the House of Representatives, as it cracks down on the potentially illegal calls. With the new House bill, robocalling operations will face tougher penalties.
‘Stopping Bad Robocalls Act’
In 2018 alone, 48 billion robocalls were made, which is 50 percent more than the robocalls in the previous year. In fact, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. says that what started as a nuisance is now threatening the way people use their phones.
As such, on Wednesday, the House passed a new bill cracking down on robocalls. Under the "Stopping Bad Robocalls Act,” robocalling operations will face tougher penalties for offenses, allowing the FCC to fine them $10,000 per violation. This means that carriers have to make sure that calls are authentic, and that robocalling operations may face steep fines given the number of robocalls being made in a year.
The Act was passed in a 429-3 vote just a week after the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved it last week, and the hope is that the White House signs it before 2020. The latest Act against robocalls is also similar to the “Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act” previously passed by the Senate.
If a person answers his or her phone and an automated message plays, then they just received a robocall. Under the Federal Trade Commission rules, robocalls are allowed even without a person’s permission if they fall under five categories: purely informational messages, political calls, debt collection calls, calls from health care providers, and messages from charities. However, robocalls that are trying to sell something are likely illegal if the company did not first acquire the person’s permission to make such calls. In fact, some might even be scams.
Anyone who wants to stop receiving robocalls can look into call-blocking solutions available for mobile, landline, or home phones that use internet. It is also important to simply hang up on robocalls and to not press any numbers on the dial during the robocall even if the message states that doing so would lead to talking to a live operator or stopping such calls. This may only lead to more robocalls.
Lastly, anyone can also report robocalls to the FTC by reporting the numbers on the caller ID even if it is a fake number, or any number that a person is instructed to call back during the robocall. The FTC then releases the numbers to the public to warn others, while law enforcement uses them to track the people behind the illegal calls.