WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. Senate passed legislation to crack down on illegal robocalls.
While robocalls can be used for legitimate business purposes, the reality is many times they’re used to illegally scam people into giving out personal information or money.
Senators Ed Markey and John Thune led the way on the TRACED Act, which passed in the Senate on Thursday.
“Our phone has become a tool for fraud and scams and harassment,” said Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D).
According to Thune, the legislation will increase civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught “from $0 to $10,000 per call.”
AARP is one organization that strongly supports the TRACED Act. It said older Americans are among the most vulnerable, in part because they tend to always pick up the phone.
“The generation of like my mom, she’s 76, she cannot let a call go in without picking it up,” said AARP fraud expert Kathy Stokes.
Stokes said that’s why AARP is working to ensure members of Congress in the House also pass the bill.
“In 2018, American homes received 28 billion robocalls – that’s with a B,” said Stokes. “And that 40% of them could be scam calls.”
The House is expected to vote on the legislation soon. Texas Sen. John Coryn (R) pointed out it passed with nearly unanimous consent in the Senate.
“If there’s one thing that unites Republicans and Democrats in Washington DC is we all hate robocalls,” Coryn said.
You can also protect yourself by adding your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry.