Fighting Debt Collection Robocalls to Cell Phones

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Consumer groups are banding together to stop debt collection robocalls to cell phones – and putting pressure on Congress to take action!

Today, 17 groups released a letter to the House of Representatives, asking them to support a newly-introduced companion bill, the HANGUP Act, HR 4682, that repeals a recent relaxation of the laws protecting consumers from robocalls.

Click here to send a message to your representatives to STOP debt collection robocalls!

Why is this legislation necessary? Last fall, a provision was inserted in the budget bill which allows robocalls to cell phones to collect debt owed to or backed by the federal government – such as student loan debt, mortgage debt, or tax debt. The provision could even allow these robocalls to friends and family of the debtors. A group of Senators quickly introduced a bill in the Senate to reverse that measure.

Now, Reps. Tammy Duckworth and Anna Eshoo have introduced companion legislation in the House, and consumer groups are throwing their support behind the bill. Check out the letter here.

The robocall problem is bad enough – we can’t allow more unwanted robocalls. As Consumers Union told the New Jersey Star-Herald, If the HANGUP Act is not passed, the robocall problem will only get worse and millions of Americans could be subjected to a flood of unwanted calls on their cell phones.”

The issue is also percolating at the FCC, which is currently drafting rules to implement the robocall provision in the budget bill. This week, Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the FCC, asking them to “limit this consumer protection rollback through strong regulations.” Student lending companies are also putting pressure on the FCC – but they want broad leeway in robocalling.

The FCC’s proposed rules should be circulated for public comment shortly. We’ll keep you posted on any developments so you will have the chance to add your 2 cents to the FCC.

And don’t forget to tell your Congressional representatives to put a halt to these robocalls!

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