Tester Rips Robocallers, Tells Officials That Scams Won’t End Until “somebody drops the hammer on these clowns”

Senator: “For the robocallers out there, go get a damn job”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today pressed officials on their failure to prevent robocalls and ripped phone scammers as “clowns” who need to “go get a damn job” during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. 

During his remarks, Tester shared a story with officials about a recent robocall he received that disrupted his work during harvest, and asked officials if they have enough manpower to go after these individuals: “It distresses me a lot when I hear that there are $700 million of fines that have been levied, and no collections… I was on top of a combine this year. The phone’s ringing. I’m expecting a call from my wife. I bust off the combine and damn near break my leg. I get to the call, and the guy is asking me if I’ve paid my loan for when I was in school. I haven’t been in college in 45 years… So these guys are bad, bad people. The question I have is… Does [the Department of Justice] have enough people?”

Tester then noted that Congress has previously passed legislation to address robocalls and asked officials if their persistence had to do with failure to enforce existing law: “We can pass all the laws we want here and we can take credit for passing these laws. But unless somebody drops the hammer on these clowns and makes them pay a price, puts them out of [business], or better yet even puts them in jail… I think it’s going to continue to happen. When I was in the state legislature 20 years ago, we passed the Do Not Call list. I’ve signed up for multiple Do Not Call lists, and I get more robocalls today than I did back in 2003, for example, 20 years ago. So the question is, does Congress need to do any more or is this all about enforcement?”

Additionally, Tester pressed officials before the hearing on whether they believe there is additional action Congress should take to curb phone scammers: “That’s what a crook does. They look for – and by the way these are crooks – they look for the weakest leak in the fence. So I came to this hearing hoping that I would hear from some of you… your view on what we can do to stop, not to slow down – we’ve been slowing down forever – but to stop these folks. Anybody have anything that Congress can do to stop them?”

Tester thanked the officials for taking his questions and concluded with a final message for robocallers: “Thank you all. This is a bunch of crap. I’ll just tell you, we need to stop this. This is not good for anybody. And for the robocallers out there: go get a damn job.”

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

In September, Tester grilled Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nominees on robocalls and phone scams during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing while arguing that the problem has “gotten worse.”

In 2019, Tester’s TRACED Act was signed into law – legislation aimed at cutting 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 also helped introduce the Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act.