AG Fox Urges U.S. Senate to Pass the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls” Act
Attorney General Tim Fox is urging the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to pass the ‘‘Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls Act of 2015’’ or ‘‘HANGUP” Act. In a letter, Fox, along with 24 other state Attorneys General, called on the committee to pass the Act, which repeals a recent amendment to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to allow debt-collection robocalls to consumers’ cell phones. The letter is available here: Hangup Act.
Prior to the amendment, the TCPA prohibited all robocalls to cell phones. As amended, the TCPA now permits citizens to receive unwanted and previously illegal robocalls to their cell phones if the calls are made pursuant to the collection of debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States, such as federal student loans. Fox said by passing the HANGUP Act, the federal government has the opportunity to stop the barrage of debt-collection robocalls that can be frustrating and even harassing to citizens who pay for calls to their cell phones.
“Our Office of Consumer Protection ranks robocalls consistently at the top the list of complaints it receives,” Attorney General Fox said. “Montana consumers, as well as those across the country, are tired of robocalls. Our nation’s laws should not encourage these types of unwanted calls, particularly debt-collection robocalls.”
On June 18, 2015, the FCC formally adopted a rule change which states that federal law does not prohibit telecommunication service providers from offering, upon a customer’s request, services intended to block unwanted calls. This clarification moved enforcement efforts forward and armed consumers with ways to prevent unwanted calls. The recent amendment, however, is a step back in the fight against robocalls, Fox said. Since 2010, his Office of Consumer Protection has logged 154 complaints about unwanted robocalls.
Fox reminds Montanans to contact the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection for any consumer-related concerns:
1-800-481-6896 or 406-444-4500
PO Box 200151
Helena, MT 59620