OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and a bipartisan coalition of 34 state attorneys general have sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), calling on the commission to adopt new rules to allow telephone service providers to block robocalls and scam phone calls before they reach consumers.
The added authority sought by the attorneys general will allow service providers to use new technology to detect and block illegal robocalls – even those coming from what appear to be legitimate, local phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019.
Attorney General Hunter said the Consumer Protection Unit in his office received over 4,000 phone calls in the last year regarding phone scams, more than half of all the calls the unit received.
“Illegal robocalls are irritating and disconcerting, and phone scammers are successfully able to steal personal information, leaving Oklahomans susceptible to identity theft,” Attorney General Hunter said. “It is time to take more action and give service providers more tools in order for them to protect consumers from these scams. I appreciate my colleagues for continuing this fight to protect our families, neighbors and loved ones across the Unites States. Working together with state partners, the federal government and law enforcement personnel, we will find a way to end these calls and give Oklahomans protection and peace of mind.”
In the formal comment sent to the FCC, attorneys general write about the difficulty of enforcement efforts and why more authority needs to be given to service providers.
“Our respective Consumer Protection Offices receive and respond to tens of thousands of consumer complaints each year concerning the disruptive and abusive nature of these calls,” the letter reads. “We then attempt to identify and target potential wrongdoers. However, it is common for our efforts to be frustrated, as these types of calls travel through a maze of smaller providers. If the calling party is found at all, he or she is most often located overseas, making enforcement difficult. Due to the nature of this problem, investigations and enforcement actions cannot serve as the sole solution.”
Attorneys general also explain how scammers have found ways around the Call Blocking Order the FCC implemented last year. Despite new authority given to service providers, which increased their ability to block robocalls, the problem is still getting worse.
Last year, reports reflect that American landline and wireless subscribers received an estimated 30.5 billion illegal robocalls, up from the 2016 estimate of 29.3 billion calls, attorneys general write. By the end of this year, industry experts estimate more than 40 billion robocalls to be made to consumers.
First Orion, a tech company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call blocking technology, predicts nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from a scammer.
Attorney General Hunter was joined on the comment by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection
To read the letter, click here.