Bill seeks to bolster efforts to prevent phone-related fraud schemes

A Democratic group of legislators recently introduced a bill to prohibit the use of automated telephone equipment in sending unsolicited text messages resulting in fraudulent activity.

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U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Katie Porter (D-CA) introduced the Robotext Scam Prevention Act with U.S. Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Shontel Brown (D-OH).

The legislation would amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to expand the definition of automatic telephone dialing systems to include a wider variety of devices deployed to automatically dial or text numbers – not solely those using a random or sequential number generator.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics show that 2.2 million Americans reported losses totaling $3.3 billion to digital fraud in 2020, with 27 percent of that activity stemming from a text message and 31 percent from a phone call. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fielded 14,000 consumer complaints in 2020 regarding unwanted text messages.

“As my Subcommittee’s investigation and others have shown, robotext scams aren’t simply an annoyance, they cost American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars each year,” Krishnamoorthi said. “While we must continue to educate Americans about how to protect themselves and their loved ones from fraud, we also need stronger enforcement mechanisms to crack down on the criminals who perpetrate these scams.”

Porters said con artists are swindling Americans out of millions of dollars each year, partly because law enforcement does not have the authority to crack down on robo texting.

“I’m proud to join Rep. Krishnamoorthi in introducing the Robotext Scam Prevention Act, which will better protect families by closing the loopholes scammers use to avoid accountability,” she said.