Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson urged the U.S. Senate Tuesday to enact legislation to curb illegal robocalls and spoofing.

Robocalls are the No. 1 source of consumer complaints. By the end of 2018, the estimated number of illegal robocalls reached nearly 48 billion, Peterson and 50 other attorneys general said in a letter to the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Their letter says the hardware and software required to make robocalls is easy to obtain, enables “mass-dialing of thousands of calls for pennies,” and allows telemarketers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information.

Despite the National Do Not Call Registry, virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement using just a computer, inexpensive software (i.e., auto-dialer and spoofing programs), and an internet connection, the letter says.

A coalition of 51 attorneys general, led by Peterson, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, N.H. Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald, and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, sent the letter to the Senate in support of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

“State attorneys general are on the front lines of helping consumers who are harassed and scammed by unwanted calls,” Peterson said.

In addition to handling consumer complaints, the AGs have years of experience bringing enforcement actions against illegal telemarketers and robocallers under state and federal law.

For example, in 2015, 10 state AGs worked with the Federal Trade Commission to sue a Florida-based cruise-line company that conducted a telemarketing campaign resulting in billions of robocalls.  Caribbean Cruise Line, Inc. and the other defendants agreed to injunctive terms barring them from calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, spoofing caller ID information, and placing illegal robocalls.

In 2017, four state AGs and the U.S. Department of Justice obtained a $280 million judgment against Dish Network for knowingly engaging in pervasive telemarketing misconduct, such as placing repeated calls to people on the National Do Not Call Registry and using prerecorded messages, the letter says.

If the TRACED Act is enacted, it would give voice service providers 12-18 months to establish and implement a call authentication framework, designed to greatly reduce the number of unwanted calls, as well as other measures.

Peterson was joined in the letter by the attorneys general of every state and the District of Columbia.