BREAKING NEWS

AG Schmitt Joins Coalition of Attorneys General, Private Companies in Fight Against Illegal Robocalls


Aug 22, 2019, 13:19 PM
DateTime:
Aug 22, 2019, 13:15 PM

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today good news in the fight against illegal robocalls. As a result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general, including Missouri, and 12 phone companies, the phone companies have agreed to adopt eight key principles to fight illegal robocalls. This agreement will not only protect phone users from illegal robocalls, but it will also make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

“Illegal robocalls not only disrupt our lives, but can also lead to Missourians falling victim to scams or fraud. Technology has advanced rapidly, and it’s become increasingly tougher to prevent and catch those responsible for illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “With this coalition, attorneys general across the country and private companies are taking a proactive approach to fighting back against illegal robocalls. These principles strengthen our ability to pursue bad actors and work to put an end to the harassment of Missourians.”

The principles address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Prevention
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.

Enforcement

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.

Attorney General Schmitt recently joined the Federal Trade Commission for “Operation Call it Quits,” an effort to inform Missouri citizens about illegal robocalls and call spoofing. Schmitt has also sued four Florida-based companies for illegally robocalling Missourians in an effort to sell  health insurance plans.

Missourians who wish to add a number to the Attorney General’s No-Call List can do so online or by calling 1-866-BUZZOFF.