HANG-UP Act Continues to Pick Up Support
Public Policy Fellow
The HANG-UP Act – a bill that rolls back a new law that could give debt collectors the right to use robocalls to collect federal debt – is continuing to get important endorsements. Just this week, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) signed on as a co-sponsor. She joins 14 other co-sponsors, three of whom signed on after the bill was first introduced in early November.
Consumers were shocked this fall when the budget bill had a provision exempting debt collectors from the robocall rules. Specifically, the law would give debt collectors the right to robocall cell phones to collect debt owned or backed by the federal government – which means that even people who don’t have any debt to the federal government could get robocalled if they are a family member of or reference for the debtor. This undermines the strong existing laws protecting consumers’ cell phones from non-emergency robocalls.
They had to slip the provision into the “must-pass” bill because there’s no way it would have passed if sent through the regular channels! In fact, just this summer the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and consumers beat back an industry effort to allow robocalls to cell phones through regulatory channels.
Luckily, days after the robocall provision was included in the budget bill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and almost a dozen co-sponsors introduced the HANG-UP Act to repeal it. Consumers Union and other consumers groups turned out remarkable support from consumers. Over 80,000 consumers reached out to their representatives to encourage them to support the bill. And the HANG-UP Act received important support from the media when the New York Times endorsed it.
Lawmakers are also fighting back against the robocall provision through regulatory channels. Last month, four senators, including the two Republican Senators from Utah, sent a bipartisan letter to the Department of Education, asking them to push back against these debt collection robocalls. Forty-one lawmakers also called on the FCC to issue regulations that protect consumers and sharply limit these robocalls.
But we need your help. Our best bet to prevent the debt collection robocalls is to pass the HANG UP Act before the regulations are released later this year. We need you to contact your Senator to demand their support for the HANG-UP Act – and to request a hearing for the bill. Click here to send a message today!