Rutledge Calls on FCC to Stop Illegal Robocalls and Spoofing
October 11, 2018
Says, ‘the FCC needs to urge telephone service providers to protect consumers from illegal robocalls’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined a bipartisan coalition of 37 states calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow telephone services providers to block more illegal robocalls being made to consumers.
“Arkansans have long suffered the abusive and pesky robocalls by scammers, and the FCC needs to urge telephone service providers to protect consumers from illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I hear from Arkansans regularly asking to eliminate these unwanted and unlawful calls. Ending these types of calls will save Arkansans from being scammed out of thousands of dollars and undue stress from burdensome daily calls from con artists.”
The formal comment to the FCC explains that scammers have found ways to evade an order allowing providers to block certain calls entered last year by the FCC. Despite efforts by federal and state regulators and the telecommunication industry, robocalls continue to be a major irritant to consumers in Arkansas and across the United States. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014.
Last year, the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls. But now the states seek added authority for the providers to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls, including “neighbor spoofing.”
“Spoofing” allows scammers to disguise their identities, making it difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice. “Neighborhood spoofing” is a technique that allows calls, no matter where they originate, to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code as the consumer. The manipulation of caller ID information increases the likelihood that the consumer will answer the call.
“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” the attorneys general wrote in the formal comment filed with the FCC.
The added authority sought by the attorneys general will allow service providers to use new and existing technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019.
To date, the FCC has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning additional provider-initiated call blocking. The attorneys general anticipate that further requests for comments will take place on this subject.
Attorney General Rutledge was joined on the comment by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.