Consumer Catch-up: Robocall blocking act, Do Not Disturb is working, auto lending protections may disappear

Lawmakers introduce robocall blocking act

Lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate introduced a bill today that would require phone companies to give customers options for blocking robocalls.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D - CA) introduced the ROBOCOP (Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones) Act in the House, and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D - CT) brought up similar legislation in the Senate.

The ROBOCOP Act would, in part, require phone companies to verify that the caller ID is accurate, require blocking technology, and require public reports from the FCC and FTC about whether the changes are actually reducing unwanted calls.

The Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, both support the act.

About the bill, Rep. Speier said it "will put an end to the interruptions that have plagued family mealtimes, movie nights, and those big games. More importantly, it will help cut down on the stress and anxiety triggered by constant annoyance."

Drivers are using Do Not Disturb option

A recent study about driving behavior finds that people are actually using the Do Not Disturb While Driving option. EverQuote, an online car insurance shopping service, found that between Sept. 19, 2017 and Oct. 25, 2017, about 80 percent of their EverDrive users with iPhones activated the Do Not Disturb feature. 70 percent of those kept the feature on after activating.

Further, the company found that phone use while driving decreased by 8 percent among those who used the Do Not Disturb option.

The vast majority of people who use the option - 75 percent - felt like the option made them a safer driver.

EverQuote's Safe Driving Report 2018 found speeding is the most common unsafe driving behavior, followed by cell phone use, hard braking, acceleration, and hard turning. The study found in California, 34 percent of trips involved cell phone use.

Protections for discriminatory auto lending may disappear

Congress may soon be ending protections for minority car buyers. Today, the Senate voted in favor of repealing regulations against discriminatory auto lending. The regulations banned auto lenders from charging higher interest rates to minority buyers.

A full repeal still requires approval by the House and by President Trump.

Republicans say the repeal will unburden the auto industry from regulations that have hurt borrowers. They say the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau overstepped in 2013. The National Automobile Dealers Association agree, saying the repeal won't change existing fair-lending laws.

Director of Litigation at the National Consumer Law Center, Stuart Rossman, calls the vote "outrageous." He says the business "unfortunately has a demonstrated history of charging people of color more for their loans."

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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