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March 5, 2019

Miller urges Congress to take action against robocalls

TRACED Act would require providers to adopt technology to stop calls

DES MOINES — Attorney General Tom Miller urges the U.S. Senate to enact the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, legislation to curb illegal robocalls and spoofing.

A bipartisan coalition of 54 attorneys general sent a letter on Tuesday to the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation supporting the TRACED Act. The legislation is sponsored by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Ed Markey, D-Mass.      

“Robocalls are the bane of our existence,” Miller said. “As AGs, we’re on the front lines of helping consumers who are harassed and scammed by these unwanted calls, many of which come from overseas. The problem demands a federal response.”

In their letter, the attorneys general state that the TRACED Act would enable states, federal regulators, and telecom providers to take steps to combat these illegal calls. The legislation would require voice service providers to implement a call authentication framework to help block unwanted calls. It also would create an interagency working group to take additional actions to reduce robocalls and hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable.

“There are no blue robocalls or red robocalls, just unwanted robocalls. This bipartisan effort from all of the nation’s attorneys general is a powerful statement that we need to take action now to stop the scourge of robocalls and robotexts and that there is support from all corners to do so. I thank our leading law enforcement officials for their support for the TRACED Act,” Markey said.

More than 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018, making them the No. 1 source of consumer complaints to the FTC and the FCC and resulting in millions of dollars in consumer losses. According to the robocall tracker YouMail, 4.9 billion calls were made in February 2019 alone — or about 15 calls per person.  

The state attorneys general work to enforce do-not-call laws and protect consumers in their states from being harassed and scammed by robocalls. In December, Miller joined a bipartisan coalition of AGs formed to fight the calls. The coalition members have met with major telecom companies to review the technology available to stop the calls.

To keep such calls at bay, AG Miller advises consumers consider call-blocking apps and other services. Go to the Iowa AG’s website for more tips.

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