Welch Advocates Crackdown on Explosion of Unwanted and Predatory Robocalls
SOUTH BURLINGTON – At a Burlington airport press conference today, Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) unveiled legislation moving through Congress that will crack down on unwanted and often predatory robocalls. Welch was joined at the press conference by Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Mrs. Kathryn Ottinger of Shelburne, a Vermont senior being bombarded with daily robocalls.
“Vermonters are fed up with intrusive robocalls that are annoying at best and predatory at worst,” said Welch. “The calls often originate from scam artists intent on ripping off unsuspecting consumers, particularly seniors. Our bill gives the FCC the tools it needs to be the cop on the beat to go after these bad actors.”
Robocalls have dramatically increased in Vermont and nationally. In 2018, 47 billion robocalls were made in the United States, representing a 64 percent increase over 2016. Last month, more than 4 million robocalls were made in Vermont alone. In 2016, scams involving robocalls cost 22 million Americans a total of $9.5 billion.
The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 946) would:
- Amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to ensure that the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when they track down robocallers;
- Allow consumers to revoke consent they had previously given to receive calls;
- Codify a reassigned number database to put robocallers on notice when a telephone number they may have previously been authorized to call has been given to a new customer who has not authorized their call;
- Limit the number of robocalls exempted from the TCPA under the FCC’s rules;
- Require calls to have verified caller identification information associated with a call before the call can be put through; and
- Extend the statute of limitations from one year to four years for callers violating robocall prohibitions.
Rep. Welch is an original cosponsor of the legislation which is cosponsored by an additional 46 Members of Congress. The legislation is expected to be approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the near future. Welch is a senior member of the Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications, energy and health care issues.