Dinniman bill takes aim at robocalls
● By Steven Hoffman
Following reports that Americans
received 48 billion robocalls last year, state Senator Andy Dinniman
is introducing legislation to target the practice.
“I know that for many residents, myself included, sometimes it seems like all 48 billion calls came to their own homes,” Dinniman said. “These automated phone calls basically bombard you to the point of harassment. And some even employ legally questionable practices and serve as a haven for scammers targeting the elderly.”
Dinniman said he is drafting legislation that will target and rein in robocalls by:
Allowing consumers to permanently sign up to the "Do-Not-Call" list without requiring them to re-register every five years.
Prohibiting telemarketing robocalls on legal holidays.
Requiring telemarketers to set up procedures to allow residents to immediately opt out of calls via automated procedures at the beginning of the call. If a robocall is left on voicemail, telemarketers must provide a call-back number and way to opt out.
Working to crack down on spoofing, in which telemarketers use equipment to mimic local numbers or even the recipient’s own number to make distant calls display as local numbers on caller ID.
Dinniman said he will also work with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to find new and innovative ways to crack down on robocalls and enforce existing legislation. He also said he plans to lobby for stronger Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fines and penalties for illegal robocalls and violations.
According to YouMail, a robocall management company that tracks the volume of calls, robocalling surged 60 percent in the U.S. last year. In December 2018 alone, Pennsylvanians received an estimated nearly 160 million robocalls – that translates to 60 calls per second and about 10 calls per person. Scams make up an estimated 40 percent of those calls, according to YouMail.
“The fact that consumers pay for telephone service only to have it co-opted by aggressive telemarketers, shady sales pitches, and scammers is reprehensible,” Dinniman said. “The massive influx and skyrocketing growth of robocalls calls for stronger measures, effective enforcement, new authentication and blocking technologies, and better procedures to stop unwanted calls and hold illegal callers and scammers accountable.”
“We have a right to live our own lives in our own homes without annoying outside intrusions,” he added.