With TRACED Act, Tester Aims to Silence the Ring of Robocalls

Commerce Committee passes Tester-sponsored legislation, sending bipartisan bill to Senate floor

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is taking on an everyday epidemic with a new bill aimed at silencing the incessant ring of robocalls. Tester’s bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act-also known as the TRACED Act-passed the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, setting it up for a full vote on the Senate floor.

“We need to find a way to hang up on robocallers-for good,” Tester said. “This bill will help identify robocalls before your phone starts ringing, giving regulators the ability to block them at the source. And it’ll empower the FCC to track bad actors buying numbers in bulk, while giving regulators more time to build a case and levy heavier penalties against the worst robocall offenders.”

In the wake of a record 26 billion robocalls placed in the United States last year, the TRACED Act includes a number of provisions aimed at cutting the cord for good. The bill:

  • Extends the time frame in which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can catch and punish companies or individuals that intentionally break telemarketing restrictions from one year to three.
  • Requires voice service providers to implement an authentication framework to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
  • Directs the FCC to craft a plan to block calls that cannot be authenticated through the framework.
  • Directs the FCC to track which organizations or individuals purchase which phone numbers in order to identify and trace robocall violators.
  • Establishes an Interagency Working Group to make recommendations to Congress on how to improve deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams at the federal and state levels. The group would include representatives from the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities.

As Montana’s only member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Tester has taken the lead on stopping the scourge of robocalls. Last April, Tester confronted a Miami man accused of making nearly 100 million robocalls in three months and pushed the FCC to take action. He is also working to give regulators the tools they need to crack down on robocalls by introducing the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act.