Minnesota lawmakers unveil plan for legislation aimed at robocalls

Updated: October 14, 2019 06:18 PM

Minnesota lawmakers on Monday announced plans for legislation to crack down on invasive and predatory robocalls.

Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL- Coon Rapids), House Commerce Chair Laurie Halverson (DFL- Eagan) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) announced the plans in an effort to strengthen consumer protection rights for Minnesotans.

"Minnesotans are ready for this robo-call madness to stop," Stephenson told reporters at a Capitol news conference on Monday. "We have the tools to make that happen. It's time to put them to work."

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said Minnesotans have received over 387 million robocalls so far in 2019, which totals about 58 calls per person.

Police: Dozens of Eagan residents scammed out of over $440K in 2019

Eagan Police said last month that victims in that city alone suffered losses of nearly $500,000 just this year from scams and "spoofing" calls.

Under the legislation Stephenson plans to propose, robocalls would be illegal and criminal enhancements would make it a felony whenever a robocall results in identity theft or swindle. The lawmakers said the bill would also give the Department of Commerce, attorney general and consumers tools to take action when receiving robocalls.

"These calls aren't just obnoxious for senior citizens and other vulnerable populations they are a significant source of fraud," Stephenson said.

Regulators give phone companies new tools to fight robocalls

Stephenson said his legislation would also require all telecommunications companies to implement the latest and strongest anti-robocall technology at no additional cost to consumers.

The legislation will be introduced when the 2020 legislative session begins on Feb. 11. Stephenson says he's talking with members of the Senate Republican majority about a similar bill in the Senate.

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