The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act has been signed into law by President Donald Trump. The bipartisan law is aimed at reducing the scourge of the millions of unwanted robocalls that contact U.S. consumers every year. The bill passed the House 417-3 and the Senate unanimously.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, “This historic legislation will provide American consumers with even greater protection against annoying unsolicited robocalls. American families deserve control over their communications, and this legislation will update our laws and regulations to stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to stop unwanted solicitation.”
Over the past several years, illegal robocalls have spiked in the U.S. YouMail, which charts the number of robocalls nationwide, said nearly 54 billion such calls were made across the U.S. in 2019, with the average consumer receiving 164 robocalls each year. The scammers are oftentimes located outside of the country, making them difficult to prosecute.
The TRACED Act gives the federal government and phone companies new tools to protect consumers from the robocall epidemic. Phone companies are now able to block illegal robocalls from reaching consumers’ phones without having to get consumers’ permission first. The bill also requires most carriers in the U.S. to ensure that calls are coming from real numbers.
Under the legislation, the Federal Communications Commission gets more time and power to fine robocallers, with fines for illegal robocalling operations increasing to up to $10,000. It’s already illegal to fake numbers on Caller ID to defraud or cause harm. Automated telemarketing calls from legitimate companies are also prohibited if they don’t already have written permission.
The legislation isn’t likely to cut down on the billions of robocalls flooding Americans’ phone lines right away. It is believed that average consumers can expect to see a reduction within six months, although some unwanted calls may still make it through.