NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is taking aim at annoying robocalls that plague an increasing number of Americans.
He and other lawmakers are calling for legislation to crack down on the practice.
A record 2.5 billion robocalls were made to U.S. customers in March.
Stopping the harassing calls has gained bipartisan support, but tracking down the offenders can be the hard part, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.
Menendez’s own press conference was interrupted Friday by a call from a foreign number.
“We need to catch, prosecute and punish robocallers who make a living ripping off consumers,” he said. “We need big companies to adopt the technology we know can stop spoof calls in their tracks.”
Web Extra: Sen. Menendez Holds News Conference On Robocall Crackdown
Tri-State Area residents agree they’re all too familiar with their phones ringing day and night, often from numbers that appear to come from their own area codes. Nearly half the time, it’s a scam.
“They keep calling, they keep calling, they keep calling,” one man said.
“Frustrating,” a woman added.
“There’s a whole bunch of them,” said another woman. “Pretty much everything here that I didn’t answer.”
On Thursday, Congress held its first hearing on what’s called the “Traced Act” to address mounting concerns.
“These criminals are taunting us, because they think we won’t act,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-CO, said.
The bill would increase the fines issued to robocallers – up to $10,000 per illegal call. It would also require phone companies to upgrade their caller ID systems to notify customers if a call is coming from a legitimate number.
“The best way to prevent illegal robocalls is to stop them from ever being made. And the best way to ensure that is to put the people that are making them behind bars,” said Kevin Ruby, a representative from U.S. Telecom – the Broadband Association.
Web Extra: How To Stop Robocalls From Bothering You
Florida resident Allan Lee said he signed up for the Federal Communications Commission’s “Do Not Call” registry, but felt it didn’t got far enough.
“Several times, and that’s the problem,” he said. “They go for a while, and then all of a sudden, the calls are back again.”
The Traced Act takes a more aggressive approach.
The bill’s sponsor hopes to hold a full Senate vote in the coming weeks.