The U.S. Senate should pass the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act (HANGUP Act) immediately to protect consumers from unwanted debt collection robocalls made to their cell phones, Attorney General Cooper said Wednesday.
Today, Cooper joined 23 other state attorneys general to send a letter calling on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to pass the act, which would remove a recent amendment to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that allows debt collectors to robocall consumers’ mobile phones.
“These calls are intrusive and annoying and can hold phones hostage with their repeated calls,” Cooper said. “Consumers have made it clear they don’t want robocalls on their cell phones and Congress needs to listen.”
Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division received more than 9,000 complaints about unwanted calls last year, many of them robocalls, prerecorded calls made using automatic dialers. In its current form, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act allows previously illegal robocalls to go to mobile phones for the purpose of collecting debts owed to or guaranteed by the federal government, including federal student loans. Debt collectors would continue to be able to contact consumers through other means to collect on legitimate debts.
Cooper has long fought for consumers’ rights not to get unwanted robocalls. In 2015, Cooper and other state attorneys general asked the Federal Communications Commission to change a rule that allowed robocalls. In June 2015, the FCC adopted a rule change allowing telecommunication companies to use technology to block robocalls. Last year, Cooper joined 44 additional state attorneys general in a letter urging the five major telephone companies, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and CenturyLink, to offer robocall blocking technology to their customers.
Cooper’s office is currently in court fighting unwanted calls. He has also joined attorneys general from Illinois, California and Ohio and the federal government in an ongoing lawsuit against DISH Network over millions of telemarketing calls made on behalf of the satellite TV provider. The outcome of the trial could impact other telemarketers’ ability to evade Do Not Call laws by outsourcing call violations to third parties, Cooper said.
North Carolina law makes it illegal for a business to call you using a recorded message, but many unscrupulous telemarketers ignore the law. Cooper recommends that anyone who receives unwanted robocalls or telemarketing calls hang up and report the calls to his office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online. North Carolinians can also sign up for the national Do Not Call registry at 1-888-382-1222 or at ncdoj.gov.
Link: Pass HANGUP Act to fight cell phone robocalls, AG Cooper urges U.S. Senate