October 24, 2023 — Press Release

To Date, FCC Efforts Have Failed to Achieve a Meaningful Reduction in Unwanted and Illegal Calls and Texts

WASHINGTON – Today, Margot Saunders, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband at a hearing titled, “Protecting Americans from Robocalls.” 

“The current regulatory structure allows criminals access to Americans’ wallets, with billions of dollars stolen every year through scams executed over this nation’s telephone lines,” said Margot Saunders, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “The unrelenting onslaught of unwanted and illegal calls and texts to American telephone lines demands more aggressive measures to stop them.”

The number of Americans who lost money through telephone scams continued to escalate in 2022, and total consumer losses increased to more than $39 billion last year. A March 2023 study by Juniper Research predicts that fraudulent robocalls will cost mobile subscribers $58 billion this year.

Scam calls, combined with unwanted—and mostly illegal—telemarketing calls and text messages, erode consumers’ trust in their phones and make it more difficult for important messages from health care providers and other legitimate callers to get through

“To date, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) methods have not succeeded in achieving a meaningful reduction in these unwanted and illegal calls,” said Saunders, who also highlighted the misuse of consumers’ “consents” by lead generators and others as a major factor contributing to the increasing number of illegal telemarketing calls and texts. 

The FCC established the Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD) as a way to apply requirements to voice service providers and keep track of them, but Saunders testified that the FCC has yet to unlock the full potential of the RMD as a powerful and effective tool to control non-compliant providers.

“The FCC should be empowered to use immediate—but temporary—suspension from its Robocall Mitigation Database as a mechanism to protect telephone subscribers from receiving illegal calls,” said Saunders. “It’s time regulators place a higher priority on protecting U.S. telephone subscribers from criminal scam calls than on providing originating and gateway providers access to the U.S. telephone network.”

Related Resources

Support NCLC

Please support NCLC's work to advance consumer rights and economic justice with a tax-deductible contribution today!