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Proposed House bill cracks down on illegal robocalls with bipartisan support

By Cal Jeffrey · 14 replies
Jun 20, 2019
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  1. On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill to crack down on robocalls. The bipartisan bill titled, “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act” would require carriers to do more about the problem while providing for stricter punishments for call spammers.

    The law, sponsored by Democrat chairman of the Energy and Commerce Frank Pallone, Jr and ranking Republican member Greg Walden, would require telecom providers authenticate and offer “opt-out” blocking (blocking by default) at no charge to the consumer. The bill also provides for a level of transparency so that customers can see who is calling in case a legitimate call is accidentally flagged as spam.

    The measure would lengthen the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) statute of limitations on robocall violations. It also calls for the Commission to introduce rules to protect consumers from automated calls, monitor and tighten exemptions, and regularly report to Congress on the implementation of its reassigned numbers database.

    "Americans deserve to be free of the daily danger and harassment of robocalls. It’s time we end the robocall epidemic and restore trust back into our phone system."

    If it sounds familiar, that’s because last month the US Senate passed a similar proposal called the “Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act” (or TRACED Act). The only difference is the Senate bill does not impose additional rules on the FCC.

    The two measures seem redundant, so a rewriting incorporating provisions from both into one bill that can be passed by both House and Senate seems in order before sending it to the President's desk for approval.

    Bills, laws, and regulations that fight against robocalls have had no problem finding bipartisan support. In addition to the Senate bill, the FCC unanimously voted to allow carriers to block robocalls aggressively, including opt-out auto-blocking.

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,212

    I was having those conversation at work a few days ago. All of get between 5-8 every day. My boss said it is now incredibly difficult to do his job because he can't NOT answer his phone.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,377   +3,772

    While it's a good start, they need to demand the TELCO's develop the ways and means to track the callers and turn over the evidence to the FBI on a regular basis (Weekly at minimun) so we can deal with the local folks as well as inform other countries of their illegal activities with the promise to block all carriers from those countries until the mess is cleared up. Some might complain about the interruption but it's the only way to put a halt to this junk and restore our communications systems, free from so many scammers .....
    Cal Jeffrey and EClyde like this.
  4. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,234   +894

    I got called by "LATVIA" 3 times today.
  5. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,557   +546

    Has he tried the federal DNL? It helps against legal telemarketers, it's free to register your phone number.
  6. Soulburn74

    Soulburn74 TS Enthusiast Posts: 48   +20

    The main issue is that the illegal robocallers are spoofing the number that is showing up on your phone as the caller. I'm not a telecom engineer, so I don't know the in's n out's of being able to detect a spoofed number, or how to block them. But I am in the same boat as the other poster. I now have a shared work/personal phone, so I am all but obligated to answer every call just in case it is a valid work call. Thankfully my carrier (t-mobile) does a pretty good job at blocking them already, I used to get tons and tons with a different carrier, and I'd block each one, but I wasn't really blocking the robocaller, only the spoofed number they were generating.......
    psycros likes this.
  7. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,212

    Do you not understand the issue? I envy you....
  8. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 150   +114

    I'd like to know what a good robocall would be. And no, it would not be for the Policeman's Ball.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  9. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,557   +546

    Do you understand that a lot of robocalls are legal telemarketers?
  10. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,758   +416

    The Do Not Call list does not work anymore. Until AT&T finally started blocking spam calls I was getting up to a dozen calls a day. Like others on this thread, I have to answer my phone for business. One particularly bad offender was some outfit trying to "give." Every time they called it was a different number. I've been on the Do Not Call registry for years -- got on it shortly after it started. I repeatedly asked these people to not call me. Finally with one guy, I started asking his name the company's name etc. because I was going to report them. I informed him of this and he literally laughed at me and said, "Go ahead." Reported the company, but still received calls from them every day until AT&T launched their blocking app.
    My daughter's school uses an automated system to dial parents in bulk when there is a particularly important announcement such as school closures and such. These would be exempted.
    wiyosaya and Jeff Re like this.
  11. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,212

    Not a single one of my 5+ robo calls is a telemarketer and the guys at work feel the same. They call, the line goes blank for 10 seconds and then they hang up
  12. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,557   +546

    The DNC reduced the calls on my old work phone from about 8 to 4 a day. On my personal phone I only get a few calls a week. I really don't see these how new measures would be different from the current DNC list. Aside from the very few people calling from the same number over and over.

    One way to end spoofed robo calls would be to switch over to "digital phones". With a encrypted unique identifier associated to every phone number.

    If your number is 555-555-5557. Think grtr2556ygtrhy5646747tghhgfdsffe 555-555-5557. The end user would only see the actual phone number.

    As for landlines calling digital cell phones. We could require a new type of landline telephone. Shipped to you from your phone company. With a built in identifier. Communicated audibly by the landline phone to the mobile network.

    Landline phone makes a call to a cell phone, the mobile network picks up, the landline phone's computer makes a audible string of sounds. Takes less then a second. The network then routes the call to the mobile customer. You could even make the noises undetectable to the human ear. So the caller wouldn't notice.

    I worked at a phone survey company about 7 years ago, we used auto dialer software (robo calls).

    In a normal scenario, the dialer would call a number, the phone would be answered and then that call would be instantly sent to an agent. When the system "lagged", calls would be answered by "customers", but it wouldn't be routed fast enough to an agent. The customer would say hello hello? But no one was on the other line, when the call was finally routed to the agent the call was over. And the opposite would also happen, an agent would get the notification that they were on a call. But no one was at the other end of the line. The agent would then hang up after the predetermined amount of time. Customers reported during these times of receiving calls with silence on the other side with an eventual hangup. This made people think the calls were completely automated and not an agent attempting to talk.

    When different regions were called agent phone numbers were automatically changed to match the area code. I don't know if the company owned the numbers or if they were spoofed.
  13. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,212

    Okay, well you're one of the very few people who is not getting robo calls. Just because YOU don't get them doesn't not mean the rest of us aren't
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,956   +2,270

    Unity in DC? Unbelievable!
  15. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 406   +124

    So out of all the issues that plague America, this was a big enough one to bother with (likely because those gov officials are also getting spam calls).

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