A new bill aims to keep the tide of robocalls from becoming a tsunami.

Last week, President Obama signed an emergency budget bill that kept the government from shutting down, which also opened the door to automated debt-collection robocalls to your cell phone. Buried in Section 301 of the Budget Act is a provision that would allow loan servicers and other collectors of federal loan debt to use robocalls and robotexts to contact Americans struggling to pay off student loans, mortgage, tax, and other debt owed to or backed by the federal government.

READ Consumers Union's Report on How Phone Companies Could End Unwanted Robocalls

The provision allows robocalls not only to those who owe debt but also to their family, references, and even those who get assigned a phone number that once belonged to someone who owed debt.  

A new piece of legislation hopes to roll that back. Senator Edward J. Markey and 10 colleagues introduced the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANG UP) act, which protects student loan and mortgage borrowers, veterans, farmers, taxpayers, and others from unwanted robocalls and texts.

Senators Claire McCaskill (D – Mo.), Ron Wyden (D – Ore.) Robert Menendez (D – N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D – Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I – Vt.), Al Franken (D – Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D – Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) have cosponsored this bill.

Currently, per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act (FDCPA), it’s illegal for debt collectors to call a cellphone to collect a debt, unless the debtor has granted prior permission. It’s been illegal for other companies to use auto-dialing equipment to call cellphones for nearly a quarter century.  If the budget bill provision is allowed to go into effect, millions of Americans could be subjected to more unwanted calls, according to Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.  

Furthermore, there’s a question of how effective debt-collection robocalls would ultimately be. The Office of Management and Budget estimates the program would only net the government $120 million over 10 years—just 0.01 percent of the Federal student loan debt currently outstanding. 

You can stand up for the HANG UP Act. Use this simple form to send a personal message to your Senators to get behind this bill and repeal the robocall provision before it takes effect.