AG Koster urges U.S. Senate to pass the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls” Act

Feb 10, 2016, 10:07 AM
Feb 10, 2016, 10:03 AM

– Koster calls on Senate Committee to pass bill repealing amendment allowing debt-collection robocalls –

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster 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, Koster and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, along with 23 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.  

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. Koster 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. 

“Debt-collection calls and robocalls consistently top the list of complaints our office receives,” Koster said. “Consumers have made it clear that they are fed up with robocalls, and our laws should be moving to restrict unwanted calls, not encourage them.”  

In 2015, Koster and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller led the charge to support the recent Federal Communications Commission rule change to address the proliferation of robocalling. 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, Koster said.

Koster said his office received more than 41,000 complaints last year about unwanted calls, a majority of which were robocalls.

Koster reminds Missourians they can sign up for the Do-Not-Call hotline on his website or by calling 1-866-662-2551. He encourages consumers who receive harassing solicitation calls to file a complaint at 1-866-buzzoff (1-866-289-9633).