Robocalls up 16% in the wake of federal regulation intended to crack down on spoofed phone numbers despite the passage of a law co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez, who promised to crack down on annoying, disruptive and illegal robocalls.
Americans have been hit with 4.4 billion robocalls last month, a 16% jump from the month prior, according to spam blocking app YouMail.
During a press conference boasting about his legislation on April 12, 2019, Menendez actually received a robocall and answered it while reporters watched.
The Menendez legislation was signed on December 30, 2019, by then-President Donald Trump.
Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who worked with Menendez on the bill, said the Senate first passed the measure by a vote of 97 to 1 on May 23, 2019, and the House of Representatives passed a modified version of it by a vote of 417 to 3 on December 4, 2019.
Trump signed the anti-robocall Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act into law, supporting bipartisan legislative efforts to beat back the flood of robocalls that plague Americans daily.
Trump’s statement from the White House has been archived:
This historic legislation will provide American consumers with even greater protection against annoying unsolicited robocalls. American families deserve control over their communications, and this legislation will update our laws and regulations to stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to stop unwanted solicitation. President Donald J. Trump is proud to have worked with Congress to get this bipartisan legislation to his desk, and even prouder to sign it into law today.
The law, among other things, established monetary penalties for robocalls, and requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to mandate telecommunications providers implement call authentication and traceback technology.
It also requires the FCC to issue rules, policies, or procedures to protect individuals from robocalls and spoofing, including texts, from an unauthenticated number.
“Robocall scams that intentionally prey on vulnerable American consumers,” said Lisa McCormick, a progressive critic who challenged Menendez in the 2018 Democratic primary election. “In 2019, Congress passed legislation that utterly failed to address annoying and illegal robocalls, demonstrating the bipartisan ineptitude that defines our political establishment.”
“Instead of going after criminals who illegally dial countless phone numbers, Senator Menendez gave Donald Trump a bill to sign into law that does nothing about promoting public accountability among or taking aggressive action against, those responsible for illegal, fraudulent, and abusive robocalls,” said McCormick. “Menendez and his buddy Trump got a chance to pretend that they did something without stopping criminals who are ripping people off or holding the callers accountable.”
“Robocalls are a daily annoyance for many Americans, and they have been rising in recent years, with some estimates showing that billions are made per month,” said McCormick.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the robocall ban should remain in place, but also noted that the Menendez-Trump law has been ineffective.
“Americans passionately disagree about many things. But they are largely united in their disdain for robocalls,” said Kavanaugh, in an. “The Federal Government receives a staggering number of complaints about robocalls … The States likewise field a constant barrage of complaints.”
“That’s why I’ve cosponsored a piece of legislation that will close loopholes in our telemarketing laws, stop the harassment and give law enforcement a better shot at catching the fraudsters flooding our phone lines,” said Menendez.
The act also extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action, but few actual prosecutions have taken place and the proceeds from robocall crimes is far greater than the cost of fines.
When Menendez asks New Jersey voters to elect his son to Congress, it may be a good time to complain about receiving tons of calls and how those calls have disrupted our lives.