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Federal bill would address robo and spam call abuse

In June of this year alone around 4.4 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. This is frustrating and annoying to those in Missouri and elsewhere who find themselves on the receiving end of a robocall, especially when these calls constitute robo and spam call abuse. However, a federal bill addressing this situation, known as the "Stopping Bad Robocalls Act," is moving through the legislative process. It has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is now awaiting a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Under this bill, the Federal Communications Commissions must enact regulations regarding automatic dialing systems and artificial call messages that currently allow scammers to get away with sending out millions of calls. The bill would require that those who wish to use robocalls provide proof that they have the permission of the person they're calling to do so, and it would also permit people to withdraw their consent to robocalls.

In addition, under the bill cellular carriers must adopt caller identification authentication rules within one and a half years after the bill is signed into law. This is meant to reduce call spoofing. Carriers would also be prohibited from charging customers who want to take advantage of call authentication technology.

However, it is important to keep in mind this bill is just that -- a bill. It is not yet law. However, consumers are still protected by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Act prohibits telemarketers from calling at certain times, calling those whose names are on the "Do Not Call List" or specifically opted out of such calls from that company. The act also makes it illegal for telemarketers to engage in spamming by sending unsolicited text messages to consumers. In addition, telemarketers must provide those they call with the name of the organization they are working if asked and they must provide that organization's contact information if asked to do so.

In the end, any measures that combat robo and spam call abuse are important. It may seem like we get more and more unsolicited calls as time goes on, making legislation such as the "Stopping Bad Robocalls Act" very important.

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