“Or to be placed on our ‘Do Not Call List,’ press two.” If I’ve heard that message on my voicemail once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. Nothing preceding, nothing following, just those 12 words. What the scam is or what their angle is, I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is that I’ve never pressed the number two. And since I’m on every “Do Not Call” list known to man, I’m as frustrated as my constituents that we are still getting a multitude of these unsolicited robocalls. We in Congress have heard from our fed-up constituents to take action, and now, thankfully, we have.
Illegal robocalls are getting worse and worse over the years. In 2018 alone, there were more than 47 billion unwanted robocalls in the U.S. To put that number in perspective, that’s more than 150 calls for every adult. These unwanted robocalls made up 29 percent of phone calls in 2018. That percentage is expected to reach 45 percent in 2019, meaning nearly half the calls in the U.S. will be illegal robocalls.
I am on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and we have made stopping illegal robocalls one of our top priorities. One of our bills, the Stop Bad Robocalls Act, was passed just this week by the full House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority. This bipartisan bill increases resources for consumers to combat this growing problem and requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement additional protections.
Specifically, this bill would require all phone carriers to implement technology that would authenticate incoming robocalls. In addition to this, phone carriers would be required to provide call blocking services for illegal robocall while still protecting legitimate calls. The Stop Bad Robocalling Act would also require the FCC to implement additional protections and extend the statute of limitations from one year to four years. Finally, this bill would give the federal government authority to issue more aggressive penalties up to $10,000 per violation.
On top of these efforts, action has also been taken at the local and state level with the help of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In late June, the FTC launched a new initiative called “Operation Call it Quits.” This initiative brings together officials and agencies at all levels to fight this problem by educating consumers with new information and bringing cases against companies responsible for illegal robocalls. So far this year, the FTC has brought more than 100 cases against nearly 500 companies and nearly 400 individuals, and that’s including numbers from Operation Call it Quits.
As the problem of illegal robocalls continues to grow, I will work with my colleagues to take action. It’s time to end these unnecessary and illegal robocalls.
For more information on my activities in our district and in Washington, I encourage you to follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rep.Billy.Long and my Twitter page at https://twitter.com/USRepLong. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter, "Long's Short Report,” by visitinghttps://longforms.house.gov/newsletter-and-email-updates-form