TRACED Act increases penalties, improves technology to catch bad actors, hold them accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee—today voted to pass the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, bipartisan legislation she co-sponsored to help stop and deter illegal and predatory robocalls.

The bill would give regulators more time to find scammers, increase civil forfeiture penalties for those caught, promote call authentication and blocking adoption, and bring relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally ignore the law. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 97 to 1.

“I hear from so many West Virginians about annoying and misleading robocalls,” Senator Capito said. “I’m proud we have delivered a solution in the TRACED Act with broad, bipartisan support.

Robocalls are more than a nuisance; they’re dangerous and predatory. Increasing penalties and giving the appropriate authorities more tools to go after these bad actors is a no-brainer.”

The TRACED Act would:

Broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.

Extend the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law the FCC has only one year to do so and the FCC has told the committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.

Bring together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies—as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities—to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.

Require providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

Direct the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Capito has worked closely with her colleagues on advancing this legislation. In November, she asked FTC commissioners about how legislators could crack down on these bad actors.

The TRACED Act now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration