Supporting Efforts to Curb Robocalls

By Vin Gopal


In a bi-partisan initiative, LD11 Assemblywomen Dr. Margie Donlon and Luanne Peterpaul and I joined Congressman Frank Pallone and local government officials from our district at a press conference last week to support his legislation, the “Do Not Disturb Act,” to curb the robocalls by closing loopholes in federal robocall laws.

Robocallers are scamming millions of Americans every single day. In 2022, they bilked approximately 68 million Americans out of $29 billion and the problem continues to grow. This is a federal issue, but we see the impact at a local level every day. Constituents call the LD11 office regularly with concerns about robocalls, which are, for the most part, unregulated. Just last week Atlantic City Electric reported customers lost 64 percent more money to successful scam attempts in the fourth quarter of 2023 than the same period in 2022 and the utility company’s customers lost more than $205,000 over the course of the year to scammers.

Too often, the angry and abusive robocallers actively target our aging populations, pretending to provide a benefit or service that our seniors would be interested in, from debt relief to extended car warranties. The automated messages often threaten the risk of something bad happening if the directions stated on the call are not followed. The robocallers may ask for private information, including one’s social security number, bank information, or even Medicare information.

The callers are playing on the financial concerns of many older Americans and trying to take advantage of their fears.

Our constituents are being badgered and bombarded by these robocalls, and truthfully, people start to ignore the calls on their phone because they assume that the call is a scam. This makes it difficult for community leaders and public officials to reach residents with information about issues that really impact them.

Congressman Pallone has been a trailblazer in addressing the robocall crisis, previously passing the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act to address robocalls. Unfortunately, a US Supreme Court case redefined the parameters for autodialers, excluding many of these robocallers from consumer protections.

The “Do Not Disturb Act” would plug the loopholes created by the Supreme Court’s ruling and apply to almost anything that you would think of as a robocall. The new bill would also require disclosure when artificial intelligence is used in a robocall; create a Federal Communications Commission tracking system for illegal robocall campaigns; direct the FCC to require phone service providers to offer free robocall-blocking services for their customers, and add new restrictions on telemarketers.

As technology changes, the laws regulating the technology need to change as well to protect our communities. We’re excited about the positive potential of this proposed law to address the onslaught of robocalls, protect consumers from scams, and improve our quality of life in the process.