New law in Tennessee and action pending in Congress on robocalls will help consumers from receiving unwanted and unlawful robocalls

   We all are aware of the issue of robocalls, with many Tennesseans experiencing calls daily from a wide variety of scammers. Not only is this a problem here in Tennessee, but for people in states throughout the country who collectively receive billions of unwanted calls each year. 

    Consumers will benefit from actions taken by the General Assembly this year aiming to cut down on robocalls in the Volunteer State under legislation I was pleased to sponsor strengthening penalties against fraudulent calls. While this will help, it was important that Washington, which has the ultimate authority over this matter through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies, address the problem. I am pleased to report that the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation this week to combat the issue at the national level co-sponsored by three of our own Tennessee representatives, Congressmen Chuck Fleishmann, Phil Roe and Tim Burchett. This follows similar action taken by the U.S. Senate in May.

    Let’s look at what is being done on the state and federal levels to combat the problem. First, the new Tennessee law which I sponsored takes special aim at “spoofed” robocalls or texts that use fraudulent caller identification information to disguise the caller’s true identity. Spoofing technology has advanced over the last several years and continues to grow at a rapid pace. As a result, imposter scams and identity thefts have increased. That’s just not acceptable.

   Under the new Tennessee law, which is already enacted, penalties for caller identification spoofing were strengthened. It also calls on providers of phone services to implement an effective framework by 2020 for authenticating calls to better enable them to identify and stop calls before they reach the consumer. In addition, it called on the state’s Attorney General to contact the FCC regarding the creation of new rules at the federal level that allow telephone carriers to block more illegal robocalls being made to consumers in this state and across the country. 

   Turning to the federal legislation passed by the U.S. House this week, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act requires that phone carriers implement call authentication technology so consumers can trust their caller ID again, with no additional line-item for consumers, and includes a process to help rural carriers implement this technology. It also allows carriers to offer call blocking services to consumers, with no additional line-item charge, with important transparency safeguards to make sure important calls aren’t inadvertently blocked. 

   Likewise, the U.S. Senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence “TRACED” Act in May which implements strong penalties for each day of a continuing robocall violation. It also requires providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones. The FCC would be directed to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers.

   Congress is expected to take up both bills in a Conference Committee and hopefully send President Trump significant legislation to get rid of unwanted and unlawful calls. This is good news for consumers and I am very hopeful that the federal legislation, along with the new law passed in Tennessee this year, will greatly deter these calls. I look forward to seeing the final product coming out of Washington and believe we are on the right track in getting a real solution to this problem.

You May Contact Senator Hensley at

425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746

Nashville TN 37243

615-741-3100

Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100

Fax 615-253-0231

855 Summertown Highway

Hohenwald TN 38462

Phone 931-796-2018

Cell Phone 931-212-8823

E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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