Tester: “I’m on a ‘Do Not Call list,’ but I still get the damn calls”

Tester pushes legislators and regulators to stop the scourge of robocalls

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – “I’m on a ‘Do Not Call’ list, but I still get the damn calls,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester told experts during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday about stopping the scourge of robocalls.

“You’ve talked about the fact that the TRACED Act is a great first step,” Tester said. “But quite frankly, the full implementation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act-which contains the ‘Do Not Call’ list-needs to happen. Are there any teeth to that ‘Do Not Call’ list?”

“There are some teeth to it,” said Margot Freeman Saunders, Senior Counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. “But the cases are unfortunately difficult to bring because the TRACED Act has not yet been implemented.”

As Saunders noted in her testimony at the hearing, Americans were subjected to 5.2 billion robocalls last month-a 370 percent increase since December of 2015. At this rate, the number of robocalls made in 2019 will far surpass the record 26 billion robocalls made to U.S. numbers last year.

The number of calls-Tester noted-continues to rise despite having laws on the books to prevent this kind of abuse. That’s because enforcement is restricted by the fact that these calls can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to trace back to their source. That’s why Tester helped introduce the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act last month. This bill would enable regulators to identify, track, and prosecute the worst robocall offenders.

“What you’re saying is if the TRACED Act is implemented…that makes the Telephone Consumer Protection Act more powerful and more enforceable?” Tester asked.

“Yes sir,” Saunders said.

The TRACED Act passed out of Committee last week, setting it up for a full vote on the Senate floor. As Montana’s only member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Tester has taken the lead on stopping the scourge of robocalls. In addition to the TRACED Act, Tester helped introduce the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act last Congress and pushed the FCC to take action against a Miami man accused of making nearly 100 million robocalls in less than three months last year.