Robocalls in the crosshairs of bipartisan House bill

Will the scourge of robocalls ever become a thing of the past?

A flurry of proposals on Capitol Hill, including a bill that has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, could make a dent in curbing the proliferation of ubiquitous spam calls.

The House's Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would toughen requirements for carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile to dispense harsher penalties on spam callers, but it would also go further.

The measure requires that carriers authenticate calls and offer opt-blocking at no extra charge to consumers, with transparency rules to make sure you don't miss actual important calls. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission would be given extended statutes of limitation on robocall offenses.

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Can robocalls be stopped? (iStock)

Can robocalls be stopped? (iStock) (iStock)

The regulator would have to issue rules to protect against spam calls, crack down on robocall exemptions and submit a progress report on implementing a reassigned numbers database.

Besides being an annoyance for millions of consumers worldwide, robocalls can also be detrimental to the functioning of health care facilities, jamming up lines that are needed for real emergencies.

“The bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act offers consumers a way out by ensuring that every call they get is verified,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, D-NJ, and Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in a statement.  “Americans should be able to block robocalls in a consistent and transparent way without being charged extra for it.  Our legislation also gives the FCC and law enforcement the authority to enforce the law and quickly go after scammers.  We look forward to moving this bill through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee next week.”

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The Act is due for a panel vote next week.

Senators and lawmakers in the House will have to reconcile the differences between their bills before anything can be sent to the White House for President Trump's signature.

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