On January 23, 2019, separate letters were sent to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission asking each agency’s chairman to provide information about their efforts to address robocalls. In the letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, thirteen Democratic senators expressed concern about the “threat of illegal robocallers and other scammers” during the government shutdown, and observed that “legitimate telemarketers seeking to comply with the Do Not Call Registry are not even able to download the list of numbers they are not to call. Instead, they are instructed to ‘continue to use their existing lists from the National Do Not Call Registry until the shutdown concludes.’” The letter then posed a number of questions about “how Congress can assist the [FTC] to protect consumers during the shutdown and to ensure the agency has sufficient resources to address the backlog of consumer complaints and cases of identity theft as soon as funding is restored.”

In a separate letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) inquired about the agency’s efforts to reduce the number of robocalls Americans receive. Senator Merkley noted that in November 2018, he received an automated call claiming “to be a final notice of an outstanding case with the [FBI’s] ‘Department of Tax and Crime Investigation.’” The letter then specifically asked Chairman Pai to “share what [the FCC] is doing to protect consumers from these fraudulent calls and to authenticate calls to unmask these callers and track down the perpetrators.”