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Texas Lawmakers Pass Bill That Could Silence Robocalls

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Have you been getting a lot of robocalls lately?

It's not just you.

The 214 and 817 area codes rank among the highest in the nation in the number of robocalls received, according to the Robocall Index by Youmail.

In May, on average 55 robocalls went out to Dallas residents every second.

Texas lawmakers say a new privacy bill should dramatically cut down on those calls.

Senate Bill 15, awaiting the Governor's signature, will limit who can buy vehicle registration and driver's license data from the state.

In a 2020 CBS 11 News investigation, the I-Team found the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles made more than $3 million in 2019 selling drivers' personal information.

The information sold included drivers' names, physical addresses, phone numbers, emails and vehicle identification information.

The Texas DMV sold the information to more than 2,700 government agencies and private companies, according to DMV records.

Rep. Phil King, Weatherford (R), said he believes some of that data eventually made it to marketers who used it to make robocalls.

"There's no question about it," he said. "We would sell the data to a company that needed it for legitimate purposes and then they would resell it to a company that wants to go market warranties or something like that. The next thing we know everyone is getting robocalls."

Along with restricting who can buy this information, Senate Bill 15 also increase the fines up to $100,000 per record for re-selling the data to a third party that misuses it.

To catch violators, King said the state will be using a method known as "salting". That's where bad information is purposely sprinkled into large data sets enabling security experts to trace it back to who unlawfully sold it.

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