25 Attorneys General Push Senators to Stop Debt Collection Robocalls to Cellphones
Public Policy Fellow
State law enforcement officials are looking to halt debt collection robocalls to cell phones.
Citing unwanted telemarketing calls as their top consumer complaint, on Wednesday, 25 attorneys general sent a letter to powerful Senators, asking them to support the HANG-UP Act. This measure, if passed, would protect cellphones from debt collection robocalls.
Why is the HANG-UP Act so important? Federal law has long prohibited robocalls to cell phones unless for emergencies. But the federal budget bill, signed into law on November 2, 2015, included a measure that allows debt collectors to robocall consumers to collect federal debt. This could lead to robocalls even to people that don’t owe any federal debt! The law directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to write up rules to implement the measure – a process which is expected to begin shortly.
Right after the budget bill was passed, several Senators intervened and introduced the HANG-UP Act. It simply reverses the robocall provision in the bill. Unless the HANG-UP Act is passed, debt collection robocalls to cell phones could legally begin later this year, after the rulemaking process is complete.
The response from consumers who are fed up with robocalls has been phenomenal. Over 80,000 consumers have thrown their support behind the HANG-UP Act. It’s also picking up some impressive support around the country. Fifteen senators have signed on to support the bill since it was introduced. And now, it’s getting a big boost from the attorneys general.
In their letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, the attorneys general called the relaxation of robocalls rules “a step backward in our law enforcement efforts” and called for a reversal: “By passing the HANGUP Act, the federal government has the opportunity to stop the barrage of debt collection robocalls that can be misdialed, at times harassing and frustrating our citizens who pay for such calls to their cellular numbers.”
State attorneys general have long been strong supporters in the fight against robocalls. This summer, forty-five attorneys general called on five phone companies to offer advanced tools to their customers to automatically block unwanted calls.
We’re grateful for the support from the attorneys general. Let’s keep up the momentum and tell Congress to stop the debt collection robocalls!