Attorneys General Team Up to Combat Robocalling
Inside Subprime: Dec 24, 2018
By Grace Austin
Attorneys general across the country are teaming up against harmful and illegal robocalling scams that prey on Americans.
Forty attorney generals are looking into what phone companies can do to halt or reduce the practice. The coalition was first created in December 2017 by New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.
Robocalls are a growing and potentially harmful annoyance for millions of Americans across the country. Many calls from scammers target consumers with fraudulent schemes, including health insurance, credit card and IRS scams. And many are using “neighborhood spoofing” to make it appear as thought the call is coming from a local number.
In November 2018, there were 5.1 billion robocalls placed nationally, according to data from YouMail. That’s roughly 15.7 calls per person across the country. Texas, California and Florida receive the most calls, but they are a problem in every state.
The group of attorneys general is emphasizing enforcement action as a way to “reduce and eliminate these troubling calls,” as New Hampshire Attorney General MacDonald said in a release. The attorneys general are looking to make recommendations on preventing robocalls to the Federal Communications Commission. Right now, the group does not have a due date for when they hope to turn in those recommendations to the FCC.
But some say law enforcement can’t do everything. All sides need to play a part in combating the problematic trend. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt contended that halting robocalls with traditional methods of enforcement would be nearly impossible.
That’s why the group is working to place pressure on telephone companies to help better address the problem. The attorneys general have already met several times with the major telecom companies this year.
The group is also trying to expand public education about the threat of robocalls and how consumers can protect themselves.
Phone carriers are making some inroads into preventing robocalls, though. Companies are creating new and refashioning existing technology toward that goal.
Verizon now has its Caller Name ID app that allows customers to automatically forward spam calls that correspond to their selected level of risk straight to voicemail. Verizon is also in works to use the STIR/SHAKEN authentication system, which would prevent spoofing by verifying that the number on the caller ID is the number that originated the call.
Right now, AT&T offers mobile and landline services that automatically block scam calls. T-Mobile has Scam ID, Scam Block, and now Name ID features to halt robocalls. The Name ID feature is a paid feature which identifies a caller’s name and location, blocks calls, and sends a whole category of calls directly to voicemail.
Consumers are still encouraged to join federal and state (if available) Do Not Call Registries as a way to prevent robocalling.