COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the TRACED Act, legislation to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls.
"This is a big inconvenience for folks," said U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03). "It's interrupting people's ability to get their work done, it's interrupting their livelihoods and they're also violating laws."
Congresswoman Axne is an avid opponent of robocalls. She co-sponsored the House-passed Stobbing Bad Robocalls Act and said the newly-passed TRACED Act will require telephone carriers to implement call authentication and robocall blocking technology, gives the FCC up to three years to catch someone and raises the fine to $10,000 per fraudulent call.
"It gives us more time, it increases the penalty and it also holds them accountable for the real crimes they're committing like impersonating a police officer," Axne said.
Congresswoman Axne also said seniors are a target for the robo-scammers.
"A lot of our seniors really do believe that their finances could be put at risk, this causes a lot of stress for those people," said Axne.
So why not just ban robocalls all-together? Some robocalls are important and can let recipients know information such as school closures, flight changes or reminders for upcoming doctor's appointments.
"Folks want to pick up the phones and make sure they're still connected to the issues facing their families and that is why they end up picking up the phone for these scammers," Axne said.
"It disrupts the flow of our business," said Maggie Smith, the owner of Em and Liv's Hard Bean Coffee in Council Bluffs when discussing robocalls at affecting her business. "We could have a line of people, the phone rings, and we stop what we're doing and answer the phone."
Smith said about five to six times a day she has to put the customers on hold to answer a robocall. In her line of work, she needs to answer every call even if the number shows an out of town area code.
"I have to answer it no matter what," Smith said. "There's a lot of people that don't have local numbers that are here."
Smith said legislation prohibiting robocalls would help out business.
"It wouldn't disrupt our business and we could focus on the customers that are here and we're not getting pointless phone calls that are nothing," Smith said.
Congresswoman Axne said the holiday season sees an increased in robocallers. She said to contact your local congressman if you think you're being scammed.
The house passed the bill 417-3. The bill will now go to the senate where its expected to be voted on in the next few weeks.