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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL)

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Release: Rep. Stephenson & Lawmakers get Tough on Predatory ‘Robo-Calls’

Monday, October 14, 2019

St. Paul, Minn.- Today, State Representative Zack Stephenson (DFL- Coon Rapids) announced plans to roll out legislation to crack down on invasive and predatory ‘robo-calls’. House Commerce Chair Laurie Halverson (DFL- Eagan) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) joined Rep. Stephenson and are committed to advancing his efforts to strengthen consumer protection rights for Minnesotans.

“The explosion of fraudulent robo-calls demands a strong response, which is why I am today proposing the nation’s toughest anti-robo-call legislation,” Rep. Stephenson remarked.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesotans have received over 387 million robo-calls so far in 2019, which is approximately 58 calls per impacted person. The pernicious nature of these robo-calls is dubbed as “spoofing” technology, which allows telephone calls originating from across the world to show up on a caller ID with a local area code. Eagan Police Chief Roger New reported last month that he expected telephone fraud to result in over $500,000 in losses just in his city.

"People deserve to go about their day without being constantly interrupted and harassed by robo-calls," said Rep. Halverson, Chair of the House Commerce Committee. "We must take action to combat robo-calls, particularly those that prey on elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans."

Under Rep. Stephenson’s legislation, robo-calls would be illegal, and would include criminal enhancements to felony level whenever identify theft or a swindle is a result of a robo-call.  The bill also gives legal tools to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Attorney General, and consumers themselves to take action when they receive these would-be illegal calls.

Rep. Stephenson’s legislation requires all telecommunications companies to implement the latest and strongest anti-robo-call technology at no additional cost to the consumer. While current technology exists to allow telecom companies to block spoofed calls before they ever reach a caller, Rep. Stephenson’s priority is to ensure technology is strengthened and working to benefit every single Minnesotan.

“Robo-calls are at best a constant nuisance for Minnesotans and at worst a scam targeting some of the most vulnerable among us,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “It’s time for us to act and make sure Minnesotans are protected.”

Rep. Stephenson’s legislation will be introduced when the 2020 legislative session begins on February 11.