Buchanan: Silence illegal robocalls ‘once and for all’

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) this week said robocalls must be silenced “once and for all,” and urged a key congressional committee regulating the nation’s telephone industry to hold a public hearing on the growing problem, particularly among America’s senior citizens.

“Robocalls are on the rise. Two years after Congress cracked down on unsolicited calls, the problem has resurfaced. It’s a nuisance to millions of Americans and a threat to seniors targeted by scams,” Rep. Buchanan tweeted on March 15. “I’m calling for an immediate congressional inquiry to revisit the issue and silence these calls once and for all.”

In fact, robocalls are up 15 percent over the past year with 4.6 billion calls made in February alone, including 386 million in Florida, wrote Rep. Buchanan in a March 15 letter sent to U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ) and ranking member U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

Citing data from a new report by robocall-blocking app YouMail, the congressman wrote that if the current trend continues, more than 51 billion robocalls will be sent out this year, exceeding 2020’s annual total by 12 percent.

Rep. Buchanan also pointed out that restrictions enacted by Congress in the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act may be inadequate and in need of revision, and that a committee hearing could update the public on implementation of the act.

The TRACED Act permits regulators to track down scammers and penalize them with a fine up to $10,000 per call and requires telephone companies to upgrade their caller ID systems to notify customers if a call is coming from a legitimate number, according to his letter. 

“With certain provisions of the TRACED Act recently entering into force, now is the perfect time to examine the implementation and enforcement of this new law to determine if further support or legislative action is needed,” wrote Rep. Buchanan. “It is especially concerning that robocalls have continued to increase despite these new regulations.”