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Robocalls Legislation May Not Silence All Suspicious Calls

CHICAGO (CBS) -- On the surface, it sounds like a great idea: a proposal to protect consumers from illegal robocalls.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is behind the proposed legislation, but 2 investigator Dorothy Tucker discovered it might not actually silence your phone.

"This year it's going to top 60 billion robocalls," said Durbin, who recounted the hassles of robocalls. "I receive robocalls talking about my Social Security benefits."

"I am frequently a victim of receiving these robocalls," added Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

So have lots of other people, including folks CBS 2 has featured in past stories. On the surface, the idea of legislation to silence the robocallers is welcome.

"It's gonna increase the penalty to $500 per occurrence," said Durbin.

"I just don't know if this bill is going to be the panacea that fixes anything," said Roger Cheng, a technology expert with CNET, part of CBS. "When you look at the total volume of robocalls being generated, a lot of them are made overseas. That's sort of the limitation of where these laws face."

The legislation also would encourage carriers to use technology to stop what's called spoofing. That's where the scammers put a bogus number on the caller ID.

When asked if it's already being pushed by the FCC, Cheng said yes, the agency mandates that carriers do better.

Then a candid admission from Senator Durbin: He's used robocalls on his campaign. Durbin said he'd like to stop political robocalls as well.

"I've made these robocalls on behalf of candidates. Maybe I've done them on my own campaign," said Durbin. "I'm sick of it. I think most people are sick and tired of it. As good as my message might be, as well delivered as it may be, people are sick of these calls."

Asked if this legislation will make an impact and stop the use of political robocalls, Cheng is hopeful.

"If it does, that's great. We can all live our lives with fewer robocalls and that would be great," he said.

With or without the legislation, the FCC has given the cell phone carriers a deadline of November to install technology that should severely limit robocalls.

The new system would warn you before you answer, that the call coming in is likely from a bogus number.

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