AG calls on FCC to help Americans inundated with robocalls

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:48 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has called on the FCC to aid Americans inundated with illegal and fraudulent robocalls.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says on Monday, Sept. 19, he called on the Federal Communication Commission to require telephone providers who route calls across the nation’s telephone network to implement more rigorous measures to prevent robocalls from bombarding Americans.

AG Schmidt said he joined 50 other state and territory attorneys general to send a comment letter to the FCC to support stricter regulations focused on cracking down on robocalls. He said the FCC proposal would expand rules to those few phone companies that while largely invisible to the public, are exclusively responsible for routing fraudulent and illegal calls across the nation - regardless of where the calls originate.

“[I]llegal robocalls cost law enforcement, the telecommunications industry, and, most importantly our constituents approximately $13.5 billion every year,” the attorneys general wrote. “In 2021, American consumers, including seniors, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations, were bilked out of $830 million via fraud perpetrated over the phone and/or through text messages. In many cases, the perpetrators of this fraud are foreign actors gaining access to the U.S. phone network through international gateway providers. Based upon consumer complaints filed with our offices, these fraudulent, foreign-originated robocalls often involve caller ID spoofing of U.S.-based phone numbers. Yet, without assistance from willing domestic providers to deliver illegal robocalls, these calls would never reach Americans.”

In the letter, Schmidt said the AGs supported the FCC’s proposal to extend the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology that helps prevent spoofed calls, to all “intermediate” phone providers in the U.S. Currently, he said only providers that originate call traffic are required to implement STIR/SHAKEN.

The AG noted that the coalition also urged the Commission to require providers to adopt these protections and additional measures to cut down on the amount of illegal and fraudulent robocalls - including responding to law enforcement traceback requests within 24 hours and blocking illegal traffic as soon as possible.

If all telecom companies have the same robocall mitigation practices, Schmidt said bad actors will not be able to exploit inconsistencies and law enforcement will be better able to ID those who try to profit from illegal robocalls.

Schmidt noted that the letter is his latest effort to fight illegal robocall practices and protect Kansas consumers from being scammed or harassed.

In 2019, the AG indicated that he joined attorneys general from 49 other states and the District of Columbia to reach an agreement with 12 major telecom companies to outline a set of eight principles to combat these calls through both prevention and enforcement efforts. He said the agreement included the implementation of technology to authenticate that calls have come from a valid source.

Schmidt said parts of the agreement were later codified by Congress in the TRACED Act.

To read a full copy of the letter, click HERE.