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Fighting Robocalls: Utah AG Reyes Joins 51 Attorneys General, 12 Telecommunication Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



FIGHTING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS 51 ATTORNEYS GENERAL 12 TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES

SALT LAKE CITY—Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has announced an agreement to protect phone users by fighting illegal robocalls and to make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute ‘bad actors’. This agreement is the result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies. 

The phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls in order to help protect phone customers and to punish bad actors. The principles, available here, address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

  • Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.
  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools.
  • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source.
  • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

Phone companies will assist attorneys’ general anti-robocall enforcement by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated.
  • Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general.
  • Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.
 
“The principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University Henning Schulzrinne. “I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”
 
The coalition of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
 
The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.
 

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Utah AG Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2019

Utah Attorney General Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The attorneys general delivered formal legal comments to the FCC urging the adoption of its proposed caller ID spoofing rules and enforcement. These rules specifically address calls to the United States that originated from overseas and includes spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services. These provisions included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill are also known as the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

From the comments to the FCC:

The exponential growth in unlawful scam robocalls is putting more and more of our vulnerable populations at risk. The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough.

“Not only are these robocalls and spoof phone calls annoying, they’re illegal,” said Attorney General Reyes. “As Attorney General, I call on the FCC to take immediate action in order to protect Utah consumers from scams that too often victimize our citizens.”
 
Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Utah Department of Commerce stated, “The Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection supports all efforts to combat deceptive spoofing, bogus text messages and illegal robocalls pinging consumers’ phones. These phony scams continue to be a huge problem where too many consumers are losing money, so let’s look for solutions.”
 
The number of spoofed calls and the consumer financial losses tied to these scams have increased by nearly 50 percent in recent years. The offices of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah Department of Commerce receive many complaints about these calls every month.
 
Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, in 2018, the FCC reports that Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls resulting in nearly $488 million lost.
 
The coalition sending formal comments to the FCC was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and included Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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NOTES:
1. A copy of the comments to the FCC from the 42 state attorneys general can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FCC-Spam-Spoofing-petition.pdf.

Battling illegal robocalls & spoofing

November 19, 2018

Illegal robocalls and spoofing have cost Americans billions of dollars in fraudulent claims. According to a study by Truecaller, Americans lost $9.5 billion in 2017 to robocall and spoofing scams, and it’s only expected to increase. 

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 34 other state AGs urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules that would require service providers to block illegally spoofed calls or help identify a potential scam for consumers. In the letter, the state AGs reaffirmed their commitment to providing public education, responding to consumer complaints, and taking appropriate action when needed – but it’s not enough. The AGs strongly recommended the FCC explore ways to identify technology that could combat fraudulent calls and utilize every tool available to help protect Americans. 

You can read the letter from the AGs here: A Letter to the FCC About Robocalls.

Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich had the opportunity to visit with Lori Prichard of KSL-TV on behalf of the Office of the Utah Attorney General to discuss robocalls, steps federal and state leaders are taking, and what you can do in the meantime to protect yourself. 

You can find more information on the FCC’s push to combat robocalls and spoofing and tips to protect yourself here

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