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Attorney General William Tong

08/22/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG JOINS 51 ATTORNEYS GENERAL AND 12 COMPANIES IN FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS

Attorney General William Tong today announced that a bipartisan, public/private coalition that he joined, consisting of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies, has agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls.

This agreement will help protect phone users from illegal robocalls and make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

"It's going to take a multi-pronged approach from all levels of government, attorneys general across the country, and phone carriers, to stop the scourge of robocalls. These incessant calls from fake phone numbers target countless Americans each day in an attempt to steal their personal information and cheat them out of their money. By adopting these principles, we can hold these scammers accountable and together stamp out malicious calls from fake phone numbers," said Attorney General Tong.

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

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.

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, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.

Twitter: @AGWilliamTong
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