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Robocalls targeted by legislative crackdown

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is co-sponsoring legislation to crub robocalls. | Sun-Times file photo

Sen. Dick Durbin has had it with robocalls, partially because he gets them and partially because his constituents complain after they get them.

“People are sick of these calls, enough is enough,” Durbin said Monday in Federal Plaza, promoting a bill — the Protecting American Consumers from Robocalls Act — that would allow class-action lawsuits against robocallers.

Durbin, a co-sponsor of the bill introduced last week, pledged never to use robocalls again for campaign purposes.

Politicians have a special exemption for robocalls, which Durbin said needs to end.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul was on hand to support efforts to curb illegal robocalls. His office would ultimately file such a class-action lawsuit on behalf of frustrated Illinoisans.

The bill would complement another piece of legislation Durbin co-sponsored this year called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act. It would provide federal authorities increased powers to track, prosecute and fine robocall scammers.

The legislation would also require communication companies to put in place call authentication technology to weed out robocalls, which often appear as local incoming calls even though their origin could be overseas — a tactic known as “spoofing.”

One automated dialing scam is known as the “one ring call.” The single ring is meant to entice whomever hears it to dial the number back, thereby incurring long-distance fees that would benefit the scammer.

Variations of this scam rely on phony voicemail messages urging return calls to “collect a prize” or to notify someone of a “sick” relative, according to the Federal Communication Commissions.

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