rain.png
Monday January 27th, 2020 10:20AM

Senate passes anti-robocalls bill; Trump expected to sign

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The Senate approved a bill Thursday to crack down on robocalls, sending to President Donald Trump a measure meant to combat a persistent and costly problem for Americans.

The bill, which Trump is expected to sign, would stiffen enforcement and require that phone companies offer free consumer tools to identify and block scam calls. It also calls for tougher fines when individuals intentionally violate the law.

It echoes and builds on preventive measures that the Federal Communications Commission and state attorneys general have pushed for. It potentially speeds up steps the telecom industry is already taking to protect Americans from the billions of scam calls made each month.

Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst for Consumer Reports, said the measure was an important step, though “robocalls are not going to disappear overnight."

Robocalls have flooded Americans' phones because technology makes it cheap and easy to call people. Enforcement is difficult, with many scammers overseas. Even with additional enforcement powers provided in the bill, that's not likely to change, Mahoney said, which is why it's important to give consumers free tools that can stop calls.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously, on a voice vote, following House approval earlier this month.

The bill, called the Traced Act, requires phone companies to offer free call-blocking apps and verify that the number calling you is real. That's an issue because fraudsters fake numbers to look as though they're coming from the IRS or others to trick you.

The bill also gives the FCC more time to fine robocallers and lets the agency fine offenders without warning them first. The bill also pushes the agency to work with the Justice Department to go after criminals. Over the long term, that could act as a deterrent.

However, the final bill leaves out some protections that were in a previous version of a House bill, Mahoney notes. That version would have broadened the definition of what a robocall is and made it harder for companies like banks and cruise-ship vacation sellers to reach consumers.

The FCC has already told phone companies that they can block unwanted calls without getting customers' permission first, which could help increase the use of phone-blocking apps. That order did not require the tools be made free, while the bill does. The agency has said it expected the deployment of a new phone-number system to begin this year. Many major phone companies have begun rolling it out, but to work well all carriers must adopt it.

The phone industry trade group, USTelecom, applauded the bill's passage, saying it “will supercharge” the fight against robocallers.

But experts expect that as phone companies put more tools in place to combat robocalls, scammers will adapt and try different techniques to reach victims.

___

Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
After impeachment, House bestows big trade victory on Trump
The Democratic-led House has given President Donald Trump an overwhelming bipartisan victory on a renegotiated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Passage comes one day after the House impeached the Republican president
4:25PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Human trafficking lawsuits allege hotels ignored problem
Multiple human trafficking victims are alleging major hotel chains have ignored the problem on their premises for years
4:23PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Senate passes anti-robocalls bill; Trump expected to sign
The Senate has passed a bill to crack down on robocalls, a persistent and costly problem for Americans
4:22PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US stocks move higher as markets yawn at Trump's impeachment
Stocks are moving higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Thursday, extending the market's gains for the week and pushing the major indexes toward more record highs
3:44PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Group backing Iowa's Ernst hit with complaint after AP story
An election watchdog is filing a complaint alleging than an outside group founded by top political aides to Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst violated campaign finance law in its efforts improve the Republican's chance of reelection next year
3:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
Farm, ethanol groups angered at final EPA ethanol rule
Some farm groups and farm-state lawmakers are expressing anger at the Trump administration over final ethanol rules that they say fail to uphold the president's promises to the industry
3:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Pelosi: Trump's quip about late lawmaker cruel, 'not wit'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump's swipe at the late Rep. John Dingell during a raucous impeachment-day rally in Michigan was cruel
1:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
5 Super Bowl-winning coaches are finalists for Hall of Fame
Five Super Bowl-winning coaches and such NFL champion players as Roger Craig, Drew Pearson and Donnie Shell are among the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's special centennial class
1:08PM ( 3 hours ago )
GOP embraces Trump as never before with anti-impeachment
The day after House Republicans unanimously opposed President Donald Trump's impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell positioned his chamber to do the same
1:07PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Uber, Lyft to stop Phoenix airport trips over higher fees
Uber and Lyft say they'll make good on their threats to stop taking customers to and from the airport in the nation's fifth-largest city after Phoenix decided to raise fees on ride-hailing companies
3:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
EU court boost for activist in Facebook data transfer fight
An advisor to the European Union’s top court says EU regulators must make more effort to stop tech companies from transferring data to countries with weaker protections
2:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
What crackdown? Migrant smuggling business adapts, thrives
The business of smuggling migrants to the U.S. southern border is adapting to a year of changes on both sides of the frontier
2:05PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
EU court sides with activist in Facebook data transfer fight
An advisor to the European Union’s top court has sided with an Austrian privacy campaigner waging a long-running legal battle against Facebook over its data transfers to the United States
5:49AM ( 10 hours ago )
Calif consumer privacy law can affect businesses across U.S.
Companies across the U.S. may find themselves subject to a new California law starting Jan. 1
1:24PM ( 1 day ago )
California fines CVS $3.6 million for failing to recycle
California is fining the nation's largest pharmacy health care provider a record $3.6 million for failing to redeem deposits on bottles and cans at some of its locations
9:06PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Consumer News
Facebook to tackle efforts to interfere with 2020 US census
Facebook says it will clamp down on efforts to use its services to interfere with the 2020 U.S. census
11:52AM ( 4 hours ago )
EU top court: Airbnb not subject to real estate agent rules
The European Union's highest court has rejected a case brought by hotels arguing Airbnb should be subject to strict rules governing French estate agents
10:53AM ( 5 hours ago )
Toyota unveils upgraded version of its humanoid robot
Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled an upgraded version of its human-shaped T-HR3 robot in Tokyo
7:02AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Technology News
After impeachment, House bestows big trade victory on Trump
The Democratic-led House has given President Donald Trump an overwhelming bipartisan victory on a renegotiated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Passage comes one day after the House impeached the Republican president
4:25PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Human trafficking lawsuits allege hotels ignored problem
Multiple human trafficking victims are alleging major hotel chains have ignored the problem on their premises for years
4:23PM ( 8 minutes ago )
US man jailed in Russia on spying charges loses job
A Michigan man who has been imprisoned in Russia on spying charges for nearly a year has lost his job with an automotive parts supplier in a corporate restructuring
4:13PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Progressives, moderates poised to clash in Democratic debate
The evolving fight for the soul of the Democratic Party moves to California as a shrinking field of presidential contenders takes the debate stage for a sixth and final time in 2019
4:05PM ( 26 minutes ago )