Bipartisan support to punish those responsible for robocalls

Posted at 3:29 PM, Nov 19, 2018

A major crackdown could be coming to stop those annoying robocalls. 

New research from YouMail--a company that developed robocall blocking software--shows each person on the country receives about 150 robocalls a year.

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, says these terribly annoying calls keep increasing for two reasons. 

"One is there are more and more scam calls. The second thing that's driving the increase is people aren't answering the phone anymore," Quilici says.

Because people don’t answer their phones, it makes the robocallers place more calls, he says.

It’s a problem both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.  Senators John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, have proposed bipartisan legislation to increase the penalties for robocalls to $10,000. They are also proposing to extend the time after a crime in which prosecutors must bring their case from one years to three years.

Commercial robocalls are illegal, but the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with investigating and charging those who have violated the anti-Robocall federal law, has a hard time prosecuting offenders within the current one-year time limit. 

“If you look at the current enforcement efforts, there's been a $100 million fine and $90 million fine that's covered people who've made 100 million robocalls or a couple hundred million robocalls. That's a drop in the bucket of the nearly 50 billion we're going to have this year,” Quilici. “It's going to take a lot more than just enforcement and some better regulation to solve the problem."

Until legislation to crack down on people who make robocalls passes, Quilici suggests: 

  • Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize. 
  • Try a call blocking apps. One example is YouMail. The company that makes the software says, “It works by replacing your visual voicemail with an award winning automated virtual receptionist.” The program is free.
  • Don’t call back when you get a call from a suspected robocaller. Look up the number online to see if they are a legitimate business, if you are interested in the services they claim to offer.