May 28, 2021

Cortez Masto Calls for Tougher Penalties for Automated Phone Calls

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today introduced legislation to deter harmful robocalls by cracking down on the individuals who intentionally harass consumers. The Deter Obnoxious, Nefarious, and Outrageous Telephone (DO NOT) Call Act would increase penalties on companies and individuals placing deceptive calls, which can number in the billions per year, and help block them from taking advantage of people, particularly seniors.                                         

“Since my time as Nevada’s Attorney General, I’ve worked to protect Nevadans from companies taking advantage them. New technology is allowing robocallers to place more calls than ever, and my legislation would toughen the consequences for those who profit while preying on vulnerable Nevadans. I’ll keep working in the Senate to protect Americans from deceptive practices like this.”

Robocalls are a particular problem in Nevada, where so far this year more than 87 robocalls have been placed per person. In 2020, Nevada was the sixth most-called state in the nation. Although robocalls are outlawed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), they have still surged nationwide, and they are frequently used to defraud or scam the public, including vulnerable seniors. To deter them, the Do Not Call Act would:

  • Allow prison terms of up to one year for willfully and knowingly violating the TCPA;
  • Allow prison terms of up to three years for aggravated violations of the TCPA;
  • Double the maximum penalties under the TCPA for falsifying caller ID, from $10,000 to $20,000.

Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for Nevada consumers, and has been working to protect them from unwanted and potentially fraudulent phone calls since her time as Attorney General. In the Senate, she helped lead the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which was signed into law, to deter disruptive and potentially harmful phone calls and texts. Cortez Masto previously called on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger to reverse a proposed rule that would allow debt collection companies to send unlimited texts and emails to consumers. She has introduced legislation to protect defrauded consumers and to encourage whistleblowers to report fraud and abuse to the CFPB.