November 04, 2015

Wyden Works to Protect Americans from Unwanted Robocalls and Texts

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Ron Wyden (D – Ore.), Senator Edward J. Markey (D – Mass.) and 9 of their Senate colleagues introduced the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANGUP) Act, which protects student loan and mortgage borrowers, veterans, farmers, taxpayers, and others from unwanted robocalls and texts. The HANGUP Act strikes Section 301 of the Budget Act of 2015, legislation passed last week by Congress, which exempts callers collecting debt owed or guaranteed by the federal government from key provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).

Senators Ron Wyden (D – Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D – Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D – Mo.), Robert Menendez (D – N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D – Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I – Vt.),  Al Franken (D – Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D – Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) have cosponsored this bill.

Congress delivered an early present to debt collectors: a new way to harass people through robocalls,” Wyden said. “The Hangup Act will protect Americans from an onslaught of aggressive phone calls and costly cellphone charges.”

Congress passed the TCPA with this key goal in mind: consumers should not be subject to intrusive and unsolicited calls on their mobile phones,” said Markey, the House author of the TCPA. “Yet, despite the overwhelming popularity of the TCPA, the Budget Act passed last week rolls back a key provision protecting consumers from unwanted robocalls and texts. The budget bill makes it easier to harass students, consumers, veterans – anyone with a debt backed by the federal government -- on their mobile phones.  That’s why today I am introducing the HANGUP Act – the Helping Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls Act – to repeal this problematic provision in the budget act and put a stop to these unwanted robocalls and texts.

There is every reason to believe that these robocalls—which would be directed at individuals who are likely already receiving and ignoring calls from other creditors—would be wildly ineffective,’ said McCaskill. “Whoever thought it was a good idea for the federal government to get in the robocall business was sorely mistaken, and was further misguided in putting a provision that generates virtually no money for the Treasury into a budget deal. It’s my hope that with this new bill we continue the effort to reduce, rather than increase, the prevalence of robocalls.”

Vermonters are sick and tired of getting unwanted robocalls,” Leahy said.  “At a time when the FCC has been working to limit these kinds of disruptive and harassing calls, the last thing Congress should be doing is adding more corporate loopholes to laws that are designed to protect consumers.  We should quickly pass the HANGUP Act and say goodbye to allowing more unwanted calls.”

Consumers have made it clear they do not want these calls and texts to invade their privacy and disrupt their lives. Today’s effort will help do just that while also protecting consumers’ valuable cell phone minutes for talking with family and friends,” Klobuchar said.

The bill text can be found here:  

Audio of Wyden’s statement can be found here: