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Robocalling tax deadbeats earns McCaskill's criticism

The Missouri Senate has voted to add cell phones to the state's no-call list for telemarketers.
papalars | flickr
The Missouri Senate has voted to add cell phones to the state's no-call list for telemarketers.

The two-year budget compromise bill unveiled earlier this week by congressional leaders and the White House to stave-off a government shutdown until after next year’s election contains a provision U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., calls “repugnant.”

McCaskill told reporters Wednesday morning that, while she will probably vote for the compromise bill, she’s not too happy about the idea of the federal government getting into the business of making robocalls.

The provision would allow the government to make automated telephone calls to tax deadbeats. While McCaskill is not advocating for people to avoid paying their taxes, she says anyone who’s behind on taxes is already likely getting lots of calls from debt collectors.

“I have a hard time believing that a robocall from the federal government is going to be particularly effective at collecting that debt and I find it just a bad precedent we would ever give the federal government the approval to do robocalls.”

McCaskill has used her position at the ranking member on the Senate Special Committee on Aging to fight robocalls and pressure federal regulators to do more to protect Americans from automated calls.

Specifically, she’s wants the Federal Communications Commission to push telephone companies to provide customers with the technology to block unwanted calls.

Earlier this year, the Senate Special Committee on Aging heard from witnesses that many of those who make robocalls do so from foreign computer systems, making it all but impossible to find the source of those calls. Even when officials can determine the source of the calls, they’re frequently hampered by the bureaucracy of having to deal with numerous legal authorities and jurisdictions.

Technology also makes it easy for a robocall company to simply change name and computer locations to avoid investigators and legal consequences.