Durbin, Schakowsky, IL AG Raoul Discuss Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul today held a press conference to discuss the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act. This federal legislation would give the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Do-Not-Call Registry teeth by providing all telephone subscribers—including small businesses—the ability to seek damages for all unconsented-to telemarketing calls immediately after such a call.

“The Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act represents a commitment to restoring peace and privacy to all Americans, ensuring that they can answer their phones without the fear of deception or harassment,” said Durbin. “By empowering individuals and small businesses with the tools and authority to seek damages forrobocalls, we are sending a clear message: the era of predatory robocalls is drawing to a close.”

“Do not call means do not call!  Illegitimate and intrusive robocalls are out of control.  I have heard from constituents who receive half a dozen or more calls per hour. As of late, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made matters even worse by deceiving people into thinking they are talking to a friend or loved one in need of assistance, when in actuality, they are talking to a bot,” said Schakowsky. “That is why I am proud to introduce the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act which will empower consumers and small businesses to seek damages after just one illegal robocall.  We must act now to implement pro-consumer guardrails on these bad actors.”

“Illegal robocalls are more than just an annoyance. They cost families time and, in too many cases, money they cannot afford to lose,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “My office is using all available tools to protect Illinois residents, including partnering with other states to ensure all telecom companies do their part to deter illegal robocalls. The people of Illinois could not ask for stronger advocates in Washington than Sen. Durbin and Rep. Schakowsky, and I look forward to our continued collaboration to combat illegal telemarketing calls plaguing Illinois families.”

Robocalls have become a widespread annoyance, but are also costing consumers billions of dollars. In 2023, 56 million Americans lost more than $25 billion to robocall scams. These scams are also becoming more advanced with the creation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which has lowered the cost of dialing to allow scammers to bombard non-consenting consumers with never-ending calls for pennies on the dollar. Lead-generators compound this issue by inviting consumers to provide their information on one platform only to misuse and sell this information to hundreds of robocallers. In addition, through neighbor spoofing—a deceptive practice that allows callers to disguise the number from which they are calling—scammers can trick unknowing consumers into answering the phone. AI-generated voices that impersonate celebrities, family members, and elected officials makes scammers even more difficult to detect.

Americans received more than 55 billion robocalls in 2023, and Illinois residents received nearly 2.2 billion, the sixth highest among all states.  Despite repeated legislative efforts, regulatory enforcement actions, and the proliferation of call-blocking mobile applications, robocalls continue to plague everyday Americans at alarming rates. 

Specifically, the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act:

  • Amends section 227(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 to allow small businesses to add their numbers to the Do-Not-Call Registry.
  • Amends section 227(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 to provide landline and cellular consumers, including small businesses, who have telephone numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry, a private right of action after receiving one telephone call by or on behalf of the same entity in violation of the TCPA.
  • Amends section 227(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure that a minimum of $500 can be levied for each violation of the Do-Not-Call Registry.