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Congress Taking Up Issue Of Robocalls, Hoping To Pass Legislature Increasing Fine To Phone Companies

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – No one likes robocalls, and new numbers show we're getting more of them than ever before.

Robocall blocking service Youmail says Americans in the south continue to get the most calls.

Americans received so many robocalls last month, it amounted to almost 2,000 calls a second.

A total of 5.23 billion, with nearly half of them scams, according to Youmail.

"It's an annoyance," said Margot Saunders with National Consumer Law Center. "It's an invasion of privacy. It costs people money."

Saunders testified about the issue before lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado shared his own story of frustration, proving not even congressional offices are immune.

"These criminals are taunting us because they think we can't act," said Gardner.

A bipartisan bill called the "Traced Act" would increase the penalty for robocalls to up to $10,000 per illegal call and require phone companies to implement 'Stir-Shaken' which is a caller ID authentication system that verifies if a number is legitimate.

The legislation also aims to boost the partnership between federal agencies and state attorney general offices nationwide to pursue civil or even criminal prosecution.

"The best way to prevent illegal robocalls is to stop them from ever being made, and the best way to ensure that is to put the people who are making them behind bars," said Kevin Rupy, representing US Telecom – The Broadband Association.

For now, experts suggest using your caller ID to block specific types of calls or downloading apps that will do the work for you.

The Traced Act passed the senate commerce committee unanimously last week.

Lawmakers who support it are hopeful it could be considered before the full senate sometime this year.

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