WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is urging the nation’s telecom regulator to reject attempts to weaken or undermine consumer protections against unsolicited and intrusive robocalls.

 
McCaskill—a member of the Senate Commerce Committee who has introduced legislation cracking down on fraudulent robocalls—signed a letter with 12 Senate colleagues to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, calling on him to preserve the strong consumer protections within the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which established the National Do Not Call Registry. More than 233 million Americans have added their phone numbers on the registry since 2003.
 
“By banning auto dialing and pre-recorded calls to land lines and mobile phones, with certain exceptions, and establishing the National Do Not Call Registry, the law created a zone of privacy that remains hugely popular with consumers to this day,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “These protections should continue for years to come. The FCC should reject calls to weaken or undermine this effective law.”
 
Companies in the financial, health care, and advertising sectors have petitioned the FCC to relax the rules in place to make it legal to place unsolicited, automated calls to consumers’ cell phones. McCaskill and her colleagues urged the agency to reject those appeals, arguing relaxing the current restrictions would undermine the intent of Congress and the incredible success of the law has had in protecting consumers for more than a decade.
 
McCaskill previously led a Senate hearing on fraudulent robocalls, and soon plans to reintroduce her legislation designed to combat robocalls by strengthening enforcement authorities, better preventing the falsification of caller ID information to commit fraud, and encouraging telecommunications providers to more aggressively implement technologies to stop fraudulent calls from reaching consumers in the first place.
 
McCaskill has also targeted a variety of phone scams, including taking aim at prepaid debit card companies and retail stores on their role in preventing consumers and seniors from falling victim to phone scams. As the top Democrat on the Senate Aging Committee, she recently announced, along with Chairman Susan Collins of Maine, the continuation of the committee’s fraud hotline, allowing seniors to report a suspected fraud, including a phone scam.
 
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:
 
 
The Honorable Tom Wheeler
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. SW
Washington, DC 20554
 
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
 
When Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, the goal was clear: whether at home or on their mobile phones, consumers should not be subject to intrusive and unsolicited calls from telemarketers.
 
More than 20 years after the enactment of the TCPA, it is clear that consumers have benefited from the law’s protections.  In 1991, Congress was primarily concerned with stopping phone calls while families were eating meals together, parents were helping children with homework, or workers were arriving home after work.  By banning auto dialing and pre-recorded calls to land lines and mobile phones, with certain exceptions, and establishing the National Do Not Call Registry, the law created a zone of privacy that remains hugely popular with consumers to this day.
 
Unfortunately, today there are efforts to weaken this important law.  In response to industry requests, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comment on proposals that would provide exemptions and questionable safe harbors for businesses that utilize auto-dialers to call consumers’ mobile devices.  We have deep concerns about these proposed changes that undermine the intent and spirit of the TCPA.  
 
American consumers have enjoyed the convenience and privacy that the protections the TCPA have provided for more than two decades. These protections should continue for years to come. The FCC should reject calls to weaken or undermine this effective law. 
 
Thank you for your attention to this issue.
(Courtesy of Senator Claire McCaskill's Public Affairs Office)