Americans have received 54 billion spam calls this year — total, though it may seem like we each got that many. That number could drop under legislation that cleared Congress on Thursday, raising potential fines for robocallers to $10,000 per call. Major carriers also will have to start using technology that helps consumers know they're getting a spam call, the Verge reports. A House member said the TRACED Act should be signed into law by President Trump in the next week or two. It gives the federal government new authority to locate and prosecute those who make batches of calls under fake numbers, per the Washington Post.
The effects won't be immediate, supporters say, but should be seen over time. Parts of the legislation will take months to put in place. And there are holes. Those calls from credit card companies, for example, won't be stopped. The version of the bill approved by the Senate on Thursday is weaker than the House version passed earlier this month. "With all the important new protections this bill gives consumers from unwanted and abusive robocalling," a Consumer Reports analyst said, "the final bill is also a missed opportunity to give them other needed protections." More work is needed, advocates said. Still, one senator said, the new law "finally and officially puts illegal robocallers on notice." (Read more robocalls stories.)