Senate passes laws to lastly crack down on robocallers

Robocalls may soon be automatically blocked by phone companies, thanks to new legislation that the Senate unanimously passed on Thursday. 

The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would require phone carriers and companies to block robocalls without charging customers extra. The legislation would also require carriers to make sure that customers’ calls are coming from actual numbers and not robocallers. 

The TRACED Act would also encourage the Department of Justice to take more legal action against robocallers. 

The legislation still has to be signed by President Donald Trump, but The Hill reports that the TRACED Act will probably be signed into law within the next week. 

The Wall Street Journal said that the TRACED Act won’t necessarily completely put a stop to all robocalls, but that the legislation is giving the industry and federal regulators the proper tools and laws to curb the large number of calls Americans receive.

The government has been proactive in 2019 when it comes to taking a stand against robocalls. In June, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement officials announced a strict crackdown that aims at U.S. companies responsible for over a billion spam calls. Attorneys general also partnered with the effort the FTC calls, “Operation Call It Quits.”

Even the biggest cell phone carriers in the country came together in August to offer free anti-robocall tools to their customers. Twelve of the most prominent American phone companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, along with 51 attorneys general, promised to start using a new technology that can identify and block the pesky spam calls. The technology can identify spoofing practices robocallers often use to make numbers appear as a local call. 

Aside from the big four, other carriers who took the pledge include Comcast, Bandwidth, Charter, Consolidated, U.S. Cellular, CenturyLink, Frontier, and Windstream. 

Robocallers aim to obtain personal information by calling you, offering a wide range of scams. They can claim to be able to lower your credit card interest rate, offer you money-making opportunities, or provide medical alert systems. There were an estimated 5 billion scam phone calls made in November alone — more than 167 million per day.

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