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house Bill H.R. 1421

Should Federal Debt Collectors Be Banned From Robocalling Customers Without Their Consent?

Argument in favor

Robocalls are annoying, spammy, and are outright harassment. Merely owing money to the federal government — a common situation given that the federal government guarantees a range of loans — shouldn’t open customers up to receiving robocalls.

Donna 's Opinion
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04/11/2019
All Non emergency info ROBO calls should be banned!!!!
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Victor 's Opinion
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04/11/2019
Stop ALL Robocalls. Major fines and mandatory jail time for Robocallers. Enforce the do not call list. When I receive a robocall from politicians, I vote against them. I boycott ALL brands mentioned in spam calls or spam email.
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Kathi13's Opinion
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04/11/2019
Robocalling for any reason should be stopped.
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Argument opposed

This bill would make it much harder for the federal government to collect on its debts. The government can’t afford to not chase this money down — this bill would merely increase the money and effort that’s expended on each collection, to the detriment of other federal priorities.

Mark's Opinion
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04/11/2019
Yet more worthless legislation from a worthless Democrat trying to look busy and useful. If you owe the money they should be able to contact you. If that’s a problem you shouldn’t have borrowed the money to begin with. It’s a shocking little thing called personal responsibility. And common sense.
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Gregory's Opinion
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04/11/2019
Another bad idea from the tax and spend socialist democrats in the Washington DC leftist establishment swamp. WIN Win win 2020
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James's Opinion
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04/11/2019
If someone owes the Feds money the hound em day and night! Actually take it out of their tax return! That’s what the V.A. Does! If they don’t work then deduct it from their SSI payments or whatever! I work my ass off full time and am a disabled vet on top of that! Nobody gives me a break!
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What is House Bill H.R. 1421?

This bill — the HANGUP Act — would repeal a provision in the Budget Act of 2015 allowing debt collectors to robocall or text those who have a debt owed or guaranteed by the federal government without their consent.

This bill’s full title is the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act.

Impact

Phone customers; people with debt owed to the federal government; people with government-backed loans; robocallers; debt collectors; the federal government; and the Budget Act of 2015.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1421

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to protect anyone with a federally-backed loan (student loans, mortgages, veteran loans, farming loans) from unwanted robocalls and texts:

“The American people are fed up with being harassed by robocalls and texts. What Congress had instituted to protect consumers was rolled back in 2015, subjecting consumers to these incessant barrages. The bipartisan HANGUP Act cracks down on the unacceptable 26 billion robocalls made last year and stops debt collectors from going after Americans who have difficulty paying their federal student loans.”

In March 2016, a coalition of consumer and advocacy groups, including Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Action, the NAACP, and US PIRG, wrote a letter in support of this bill:

“We write to support strongly the [Hangup Act] to repeal the recent enactment of Section 301 in the 2015 Budget Bill. Section 301 will allow collectors of debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States to make robodialed and prerecorded calls and texts to cell phones without consent. Section 301 of the budget bill opens the door to unwanted robocalls to cell phones for student loan borrowers, veterans, farmers, mortgage borrowers, taxpayers, and others with debt backed by the federal government. The provision would also allow robocalls to borrowers' relatives, their references, as well as any unrelated person who has the reassigned cellphone number of these parties. Section 301 removes the current requirement for a caller to have the consent of the called party before making autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts for the collection of debts owed or guaranteed by the federal government. Section 301 will only foster more abuses from an industry already known for its abuses of consumers. Cell phone calls can distract people while driving, interrupt them at their jobs, and needlessly impose a cost on struggling families by using up scarce minutes. Though the provision is limited to debts owed or guaranteed by the federal government, millions of consumers will be affected, including graduates who can't pay their loans due to a terrible job market, homeowners who are behind in mortgages, and people who are in tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service. Families who have lost their homes to foreclosure could be exposed to cell phone calls for years if the delinquency on their mortgage is sold to debt buyers.”

This bill has six Democratic House cosponsors in the 116th Congress. A Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey and one Republican cosponsor, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), was also introduced in February 2019. This bill was introduced in both of the last two congressional sessions, but didn’t see action either time. However, this year, legislators are hopeful that increased FCC of robocalls and the public outcry against them will improve this bill’s odds of passage.


Of NoteIn 2018, Americans received over 26 billion robocalls — up 46 percent from 2017. In a letter to her Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Eshoo notes that unwanted calls are the top source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. She also notes that “stunningly, one of the most dominant type of robocalls comes not from typical scammers, but in fact from federal debt collecting contractors.”

Section 301(b) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 allowed an exception to restrictions in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) to allow calls and text messages “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” This exception took effect in August 2016, and was applauded by trade groups, including ACA International, which stated that “it shows an understanding in government that limiting dialing technology for legitimate debt collection doesn’t make sense.” However, Rep. Eshoo’s office contends that the TCPA rule’s removal has led to “millions more robocalls made not just to the original consumer, but often are directed to their relatives, references, or even employers.

The TCPA, signed into law in 1991, was enacted in response to a rise in unregulated, harassing telemarketing calls and faxes. It restricts telephone solicitations (telemarketing) and the use of automated phone equipment, as well as the use of pre-recorded voice messages, automatic dialing, and SMS and fax use. Without explicit customer consent, companies must adhere to strict solicitation rules, solicitors must honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and subscribers may sue a company that does not follow the TCPA guidelines.

If passed, this bill would put the federal government on par with other debt collectors, barring it from robocalling without consent and opening the government up to TCPA liability and creating a new group of TCPA plaintiffs who owe debt on government loans. Given recent reports saying over 20 percent of federal student loans are in default, this bill could have a major impact on the government’s debt collection practices or leave it subject to a wave or new TCPA exposure.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / PhonlamaiPhoto)

AKA

HANGUP Act

Official Title

To repeal debt collection amendments made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Communications and Technology
    IntroducedFebruary 28th, 2019
    Robo calls from anyone is annoying.
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    Yet more worthless legislation from a worthless Democrat trying to look busy and useful. If you owe the money they should be able to contact you. If that’s a problem you shouldn’t have borrowed the money to begin with. It’s a shocking little thing called personal responsibility. And common sense.
    Like (27)
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    All Non emergency info ROBO calls should be banned!!!!
    Like (67)
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    Stop ALL Robocalls. Major fines and mandatory jail time for Robocallers. Enforce the do not call list. When I receive a robocall from politicians, I vote against them. I boycott ALL brands mentioned in spam calls or spam email.
    Like (51)
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    Robocalling for any reason should be stopped.
    Like (43)
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    Ban robo-calls for ANY REASON AT ALL. Hate those things.
    Like (37)
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    As a person who receives numerous robocalls, most of them of the nuisance or even fraud attempt variety, I would definitely be in favor of legislation to rein in this annoying or even scam activity and legislate control or restrictions on it.
    Like (27)
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    Yes. Good Idea. Just send a letter to their residing address.
    Like (18)
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    They should not be allowed to harras people especially on mobile phones.
    Like (18)
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    Being in debt doesn’t mean anyone has the right to harass you! No robocalls!
    Like (17)
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    Robocalls are a safety hazard and should be illegal.
    Like (16)
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    It’s getting pretty bad when the robo calls try to sound as if you are actually conversing with someone. I don’t really like turning my ringer off to keep from being annoyed. One robot all even threatens me with police coming to throw me in jail if I don’t pay my student loan which I don’t now or ever have had. Probably one of Trumps companies.
    Like (13)
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    I don’t care if you are debt collector or running for a public office, NO ROBO CALLS!
    Like (12)
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    I agree with Ross. All robo calls are annoying. Period.
    Like (11)
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    I get robocalls everyday - some about my student loan that I don’t now and never had. I also get other robocalls about other non pertinent issues. These calls can’t be blocked because they change the numbers. And they usually come from what looks like a local number that they think I might answer. I am on the do not call registry. So, yes, those calls need to stop; it’s harassment.
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    ALL ROBO CALLS MUST BE STOPPED. Especially those involving the older population. Not sure how they keep from losing their entire retirement money they’ve saved. It’s bad enough the government takes 20% of any money a senior takes from their savings. Why do seniors who have saved less than a million $$$$ have to pay 20% to the government?? And corporations & the Uber RICH PAY NOTHING.???
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    We all literally agree on this Countable app! Any robocall should be banned!! Phone carriers however say they are piggybacking off of real cellphone numbers and they can’t stop them-hard to believe. It is the #1 complaint AG office receive, it’s not life saving or top priority legislation but it does need to be addressed with jail time since companies see the fines as the “cost of doing business”
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    Another bad idea from the tax and spend socialist democrats in the Washington DC leftist establishment swamp. WIN Win win 2020
    Like (9)
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    Stop all the horrible robo calls.
    Like (8)
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    Ban ALL robocalls without consent. The only robocalls allowed without consent should be the local law enforcement or public service calls. Anything else... if it’s important enough for a call, it’s important enough for a person to make the call.
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