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Battling robocalls is an uphill battle for lawmakers

Posted at 8:55 AM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 17:24:52-04

While you eat, while you sleep, while you work — your phone rings with calls you don't want.

They might be robocalls, fake sales calls or real telemarketers. And as annoying as they may be, not all those calls are illegal.

Still, you've reached out to lawmakers, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Federal government to lodge complaints.

"I had a constituent whose home phone number was actually stolen and used to make a bunch of scam calls. And he had contacted me and said hey what can we do about this because he was getting then all these irate calls back to his house," said Wisconsin State Representative Joe Sanfelippo.

Sanfelippo is doing what he can as a state rep, but the state can only make laws as strong as the federal government. He's pitching a bill that would match the FCC's newest rules and let phone companies block numbers more easily.

"We want to pull out all the stops to make sure that consumers can finally sit down at the dinner table with some peace of mind knowing that if the phone rings, it is in fact a legitimate call," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Most recently, the TRACED Act at the federal level gives the FCC the power to require phone companies to use technology they have but aren't using to block sketchy numbers. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul signed his approval of the act along with more than 50 attorneys general, all who say these are the most common complaints they're getting.

One national study estimates in 2018, Americans got more than 26 billion robocalls. The FCC said in 2016 and 2017 complaints for these calls went up by more than a million each year.

Experts tell TODAY's TMJ4 these calls aren't going away, but they're trying to make it easier for consumers to fight them.

Get more information from Craig Kimmel, an expert on stopping robocalls, here.