Two House Democratic Lawmakers introduced a new law that would roll back
a budget bill provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 allowing
unsolicited autodialed collection calls to borrowers of government-backed
loans. According to Congresswomen Tammy Duckworth and Anna Eshoo, ranking
member of the House Energy and Commerce communications subcommittee, the
HANGUP Act (Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls) will forbid
debt collectors to contact student loan borrowers using robocalls.
Sen. Ed Markey introduced the Senate version of the HANGUP Act in November.
The Senate bill has 15 cosponsors and has been endorsed by 25 state attorneys general.
Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, companies were permitted to autodial
people with government-backed debts, including student loans, without
obtaining the consent of the consumer. The U.S. Treasury Department had
estimated that within the next ten years, the provision could potentially
generate as much as $120 million. However, the Congressional Budget Office’s
cost estimate said that the change would have an insignificant impact
on direct spending over the next decade.
The budget bill provision directs the FCC to implement the change to the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which generally prohibits robocalls to consumers without prior consent,
by Aug. 2, 2016. Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a proposal that would
include monthly limits on the number of calls per person.