Lawmakers on Capitol Hill take aim at robocalls

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WASHINGTON (CBS) No one likes robocalls, and new numbers show we're getting more of them than ever before. Now lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now trying to take action and pass a bill that would go after the unwanted callers.

Americans received so many robocalls last month it amounted to almost 2,000 calls a second. A total 5.23 billion and nearly half of them were scams, according to the software company YouMail.

"It's an annoyance. It's an invasion of privacy. It costs people money," said Margot Saunders with the National Consumer Law Center. She testified about the issue before lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"There are no blue robo calls or red robo calls. There are just irritating robocalls," said Senator Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts.

Senator Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, shared his own story of frustration, proving not even Congressional offices are immune. "If this was my 95-year-old grandmother who got this phone call, she would have been pretty intrigued by what this gentleman had to say and the danger that poses," Gardner said.

A bipartisan bill called the "Traced Act" would increase the penalty for robocalls to up to $10,000 per illegal call. It would require phone companies to implement 'STIR/SHAKEN,' a caller ID authentication system that verifies if a number is legitimate. The legislation also aims to boost the partnership between federal agencies and state attorney general's offices nationwide to pursue civil or even criminal prosecution.

"The best way to prevent illegal robocalls is to stop them from ever being made, and the best way to ensure that is to put the people who are making them behind bars," said Kevin Rupy, with US Telecom - The Broadband Association.

For now, experts suggest using your caller ID to block specific types of calls or downloading apps that will do the work for you.