WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today applauded Senate passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act to crack down on illegal, unwanted robocalls. Last month, Sen. Menendez received a robocall while holding a press conference urging Congress to pass the TRACED Act.

“For years, Americans have been harassed by annoying, obnoxious and illegal robocalls. Robocalls are one of the top issues constituents contact my office about. I’m happy the Senate was able to come together today and pass the TRACED Act,” said Sen. Menendez. “For too long, robocallers have been scamming the American public and getting away scot-free. It’s clear that our current laws are outdated and are unable to adequately protect consumers. It’s about time we close the loopholes in our telemarketing laws and give law enforcement the authority to hold scammers accountable. I look forward to the day when this bill eventually becomes law and consumers and businesses across the country finally get relief.”

The TRACED Act would:

  • Broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on those who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions;
  • Extend the window for the FCC to take civil enforcement action against intentional violators from one to three years after a robocall is placed;
  • Bring together the, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP), Departments of Justice, Commerce, State, and Homeland Security, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities, to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams;
  • Require providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones;
  • Direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.

Sen. Menendez has been a leader in Congress in fighting to crackdown on unwanted phone calls. Last April and June, he separately called on the FCC to establish protections for consumers from unwanted and harassing robocalls and robotexts. The Senator repeatedly pressed the FCC in 2017 to take aggressive action to increase robocall enforcement, protect consumers from invasive “ringless” voicemails, and end the harassing phone calls. In 2015, Sen. Menendez cosponsored the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANGUP) Act and urged Pay-Pal to change its user agreement that forces consumers to accept unwanted phone calls.