Robocalls have become the target of recent legislation and regulations — both in the federal and state level after the House — and the Senate has both released their versions of a robocall deterrent law that would impose sanctions on illegal call practitioners. This time, tired of the slow progress of federal regulating bodies, the state of North Carolina has drafted their law targeting robocallers and scammers with fines and penalties.
On Monday, North Carolina passed a bill that would require callers to use their real name and number or the information of the business they’re representing. Primarily, the law aims to stop the practice of “call spoofing,” where companies are hiding their identities from their consumers to trick them into answering their robocalls.
In a unanimous 45-0 vote, the new law has been passed in Senate after passage by the House last month. Now, the new law is waiting for the decision of Gov. Roy Cooper on whether the law will be implemented or not — for the state to begin enforcing penalties the law has drawn against violators.
Under the new bill, call spoofers and robocallers who do not disclose their real numbers and the businesses they represent will be fined with a maximum of $5,000. While call-spoofing is already illegal on the federal level, this new bill will give North Carlina’s authorities to go after solicitors and robocallers.
Additionally, the new law will not only target callers but will also penalize those who use text messaging as their platform of soliciting or harassment.
According to State House Speaker Tim Moore, who sponsored the bill back in May, robocallers are priority concerns for his constituents, especially those who are elderly.
“When I went out campaigning this last year … I heard more about people getting scammed phone calls than any single thing else,” he said.
Rep. Chris Humphrey, a Lenoir County Republican also said that the new New Carolina bill would give the state and the authorities new tools to enforce a heavier crackdown against robocallers. “The penalties are civil at this point and will begin to make spammers reconsider when making these annoying calls,” he wrote in an email.
Humphrey said that the new law would not eliminate all spam calls that are plaguing North Carolina residents. Many of these calls originate from outside the country and is hard to trace, let alone to prosecute. However, he is optimistic that the new bill could lighten the load of calls his constituents get from scammers.
In the status quo, consumers can choose to be included in a state’s Do Not Call registry to prevent telemarketers and robocallers from calling them. However, amidst the law that prohibits companies from calling numbers in the DNC registry, North Carolina has received 168,022 “Do Not Call Registry” complaints in 2018 based on the numbers provided by the Federal Trade Commission.
For the past year, both the FTC and the Federal Communication Commission has been in a strengthened crackdown against call spoofers and robocallers. However, amidst their efforts, the nation’s robocalling problem still persists. Numbers reveal that consumers are receiving at least five million robocalls every month, and the problem has even affected basic services like the healthcare industry.
As a response, both the House and the Senate have drafted laws to penalize robocallers and to empower regulating bodies such as the FTC and the FCC in enforcing regulations against violators.
In a bipartisan bill called the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, the Senate aims to stop bad calling practices and impose penalties on violators. It will also empower the FCC and the FTC to impose more onerous regulations to halt the robocall problem.
Similarly, the House also voted the passage of the TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act which would put more onus on major telecom and cell service provider to address the problem and do a better job of authenticating calls.
As part of their efforts to stop robocalls, the Federal Communication Commission has also voted to allow service providers to block robocalls by default. A move which many of the service providers have already followed through by releasing free robocalling features in their services.