Arguing “It’s gotten worse” Tester Rails Against Robocalls and Presses Biden Administration Officials to Act

Senator to FTC officials: “It’s unfair. It’s deceptive. It’s annoying. They’re crooks… I would make sure they don’t have a dime left in their bank account.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today grilled Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nominees on robocalls and phone scams during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

At the beginning of his questioning, Tester asked the entire panel if they also continue to receive robocalls daily just like he does:“So I just wanna ask: how many people get robocalls of the folks that are testifying? Do you get [robocalls] every day? Every day. Well, I’m with you. In fact, I got one yesterday.”

Tester then lamented that robocalls have only become more pervasive and deceptive: “This kind of stuff drives me insane, and you guys all know that the FTC is about unfair and deceptive business practices. Oftentimes when I get these calls, they’re from a number in my neighborhood, okay. And yet I go through the whole process, which is a waste of life, and I get done and they say, well, we’re gonna take you off the list. And I guarantee you either later that day or the next day, I get it. We’ve had many hearings on robocalls in this committee. It’s gotten worse, it hasn’t gotten better.”

The Senator directly asked the nominees to outline what steps they believe the FTC has taken and should take to address this issue: “So, for each one of you that are on the FTC… could you tell me what the FTC’s role is, or what you see the FTC’s role is, or in Commissioner Slaughter’s case, what the FTC has done about it?”

At the conclusion of his remarks, Tester pressed the officials to take a tougher stand against robocalls and scammers: “It’s unfair. It’s deceptive. It’s annoying. They’re crooks. I don’t know if you guys assess the penalties or the FCC, assess the penalties, but I would make sure they don’t have a dime left in their bank account.”

As Montana’s only member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Tester has taken the lead on stopping the scourge of robocalls.

In 2019, Tester’s TRACED Act was signed into law – legislation that aims to cut down on unwanted calls by requiring phone companies to authenticate incoming calls, and requiring them to allow consumers to block illegitimate ones at no extra cost. It also directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make a plan for blocking calls that can’t be authenticated, and boosts the FCC’s enforcement powers to crack down on violators. In addition to the TRACED Act, Tester has also helped introduce the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act.