WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, introduced legislation Wednesday directing the Federal Communications Commission to require that phone companies provide free technology to block robocalls.

Speier said the National Do Not Call Registry has failed to protect utility customers from scammers, resulting in an estimated $350 million lost annually.

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The Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones Act, or ROBOCOP, would also require telecom companies to verify the accuracy of caller ID information, with exceptions for domestic violence shelters, medical offices and other customers with legitimate needs to alter that information, according to Speier’s office.

It would also authorize the creation of a nationwide “unblocking system” to help customers control the calls and text messages they receive, and require the FCC and Federal Trade Commission to develop a public report on whether the new rules and tools are effective.

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“The public has been subjected to harassing robocalls for years,” Speier said Wednesday in a statement. “It’s time Congress took action.

“I know, I experienced it first hand when I was sick with the flu and tormented by ceaseless sales pitches,” she added.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Speier said.

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