Twelve major phone companies will adopt prevention policies and assist AGs with enforcement
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a coalition of 51 attorneys general reached an agreement with 12 major phone companies to fight illegal robocalls. The companies—AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream—have agreed to adopt eight principles targeted at improving prevention and enforcement of illegal robocalls.
“Robocall scams are not simply an annoyance—they are illegal, and they are used to take advantage of our seniors and other vulnerable populations,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I’ve heard the people of Pennsylvania loud and clear that they want action. I’m proud to stand with my colleague attorneys general and 11 major telecom companies today in announcing this ringing success in the fight against illegal robocalls. I look forward to continuing to work together to combat this issue and deliver results for Pennsylvania consumers.”
Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:
- Offering some form of call blocking services for all types of telephone customers, at no cost to the customer;
- Offering free, easy-to-use labeling tools for smartphone mobile and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) residential customers;
- Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source;
- Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.
Phone companies will assist attorneys general with anti-robocall enforcement by:
- Knowing who their commercial customers are so bad actors using the phone company’s network 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 other service providers with which the phone companies contract to cooperate in traceback identification.
The full principles can be read here.
The phone companies also agreed to stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill led the coalition, which includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington D.C. Pennsylvania was on the Executive Committee that helped with this effort.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro has prioritized combatting illegal robocalls in Pennsylvania. In May 2019, he led a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing. In August 2019, the FCC adopted new rules banning malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and foreign calls. Additionally, in June 2017, Attorney General Shapiro urged the FCC to adopt rules to allow telephone providers to block illegal robocalls coming from certain types of phone numbers. Later that year, the FCC issued the 2017 Call Blocking Order.
Pennsylvania consumers who believe they have received an illegal robocall should file a complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov or contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at email@example.com or 1-800-441-2555.
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