House Passes Bill Cracking Down on Robocalls Thanks to Help From Florida Congressmen

Last week, the U.S. House passed U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone’s, D-NJ. “Stopping Bad Robocalls” bill with major input from members of the Florida delegation.

With around 48 billion spam calls targeting Americans last year, the House passed the bill on a 429-3 vote. Every single member of the Florida delegation backed the bill.

Pallone’s bill includes a proposal from U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla. Back in January, Crist paired up with U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., Garret Graves, R-La., and the late Walter Jones, R-NC, to bring out the “Spam Calls Task Force Act” which will create a federal task force to cut down on spam calls. Crist’s office insisted these calls are a “growing problem” to people across the nation and noted that 50 percent of cell phones receive them.

The proposal would make the U.S. attorney general “work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to convene an interagency working group with other federal and state agencies to address the following issues relating to spam calls: determine if any federal laws, regulations, or policies inhibit the enforcement of section of the Telephone Consumer Protections Act that prohibits spam/scam calls; identify existing and potential policies and programs that encourage and improve coordination among departments, agencies, and states; identify existing and potential international policies and programs; consider if additional resources would be helpful; consider if formal agreements between states and the federal government and/or foreign governments would be helpful; and consider if increased criminal penalties or fines would serve as an increased deterrent.”

Crist was happy to see his bill clear the House as part of Pallone’s legislation.

“Floridians are being inundated with spam calls,” said Crist. “And I feel their pain, literally, these calls are non-stop! Spam calls are not just an annoyance, they represent a threat to privacy, security and peace of mind. I thank Chairman Pallone for including my Spam Calls Task Force legislation in the larger Stopping Bad Robocalls bill, and for his leadership on this issue. The people’s House is taking action to end the scourge of spam calls once and for all!”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., also helped shape Pallone’s bill.  He helped write U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke’s, D-NY, “Ending One-Ring Scams Act.” The bill “empowers the Department of Justice to stop robocallers from defrauding consumers through malicious phone call scams.”

“We all hate the plague of robocalls,” Bilirakis said. “For some, they are more than a nuisance, as unsuspecting victims suffer financial harm. Sadly, these bad actors target the elderly and most vulnerable for these crimes. Our bipartisan legislation will help protect the public from these tactics.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., cosponsored Pallone’s proposal and said it would help crack down on spam calls.

“Floridians continue to be harassed by an onslaught of illegal robocalls,” Buchanan said. “These are more than just a minor inconvenience – phone scams can defraud innocent Americans out of their life savings – especially vulnerable seniors. I applaud House passage of this important bill and call on the Senate to quickly follow suit and send this bill to the president’s desk for his signature.

“Nearly one in five Americans over 65 have been fraud victims,” Buchanan continued. “It is now on the Senate to help Americans counter this serious issue by holding a vote on this important bill.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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