Fighting Robocalls: Congressman Engel Co-Sponsors Legislation to Combat Phone Harassment

robocallgraphicThose annoying robocalls are no longer just a daytime occurrence. In the past week we have been awakened at 3 am and 4 am by scam calls from Togo and the Cote D’Ivoire. The annoyance shows no signs of abating and there appears little we can do to stop it, short of canceling our phone service.

However, our Congressman Eliot L. Engel has stepped up his battle against unwanted robocalls by cosponsoring new legislation, H.R. 2355, the Regulatory Oversight Barring Obnoxious (ROBO) Calls and Texts Act, introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo.

The ROBO Calls and Texts Act would create a new division within the Enforcement Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure consumer protection and compliance with federal laws relating to public safety and robocalls. It would serve as a line of communication between the federal government and the communications industry to coordinate efforts to combat robocalls and would compel carriers to adopt technological standards to prevent robocalls.

“Robocalls on our cell phones are out of control, and I’m committed to giving federal agencies the authority and tools they need to rein in the problem,” Engel said. “I’m determined to help make life more pleasant for my constituents and for all Americans, and to protect the most vulnerable among us from abusive robocalls and robocall scams.”

Engel has worked for years to stop abusive phone practices. He has introduced legislation to combat swatting—the act of falsifying caller ID information to mislead law enforcement—and is an original cosponsor of H.R. 946, Rep. Frank Pallone’s Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which would direct the Federal Communications Commission to enact strong consumer protections for authorized calls and to empower the FCC with strong enforcement tools to curtail robocallers. H.R. 946 would ensure that consumers have the ability to stop calls they’d previously authorized and require incoming calls to have authentic caller identification information before they are delivered to customers.

Engel is also an original cosponsor of Rep. Jackie Speier’s Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones (ROBOCOP) Act, which would require phone companies to provide customers with free tools to block robocalls.

Americans reportedly received an astounding 48 billion robocalls last year, and this number is expected to increase to as high as 75 billion this year. Robocalls are one of the most complained-about issues in the United States. The FCC receives roughly 200,000 complaints each year about robocalls.