Peters bill would penalize robocallers

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced bipartisan legislation to aid Michiganders inundated with robocalls.

The Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act of 2019 would double the penalties for illegal caller-ID “spoofing,” a tactic scammers often use to trick victims into answering their phone calls.

Over 784 million robocalls have been placed to Michiganders so far in 2019 – including over 117 million calls last month alone.

“The millions of robocalls that Michiganders receive are not just annoying – but in many cases are outright scams. Unfortunately, scammers are using ever-sophisticated scams to better ensure their robocalls are answered,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation to crack down on these robocalls and increase penalties for illegal spoofing.”

“Spoofing” of caller-IDs is commonly used by criminal robocallers to mask their true identity.  Con artists use this technique to boost their credibility and fool victims by making it appear as though they are calling from the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the local police department, or another legitimate source.

The bipartisan Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act would double the penalties for illegal spoofing under existing law, increasing the fine per violation from $10,000 to $20,000 and increasing the maximum fine from $1 million to $2 million.

The legislation would also extend the statute of limitations for these violations from two years to three years.

Earlier this year, Peters cosponsored bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate to take a number of steps to address robocalls. The TRACED Act would:

  • Give regulators more time to find scammers;
  • Increase civil forfeiture penalties for those who are 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 flout laws.

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