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Attorney General William Tong

02/02/2021

Attorney General Tong Takes Action to Ensure Attorneys General Can Continue Fighting Robocalls

(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today joined a bipartisan coalition of 35 state attorneys general, led by Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina and Attorney General Todd Rokita of Indiana, in taking action to ensure state attorneys general can fight robocalls. The coalition filed an amicus brief in Lindenbaum v. Realgy that argues the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) robocall ban was enforceable from 2015 to 2020.

“Every day, our office is working to end the nuisance and threat that robocalls and scams present to Connecticut residents,” Attorney General Tong said. “Connecticut is heavily involved with several ongoing multistate enforcement actions to crackdown on robocalls and we cannot allow these bad actors off the hook. The TCPA must be upheld so we can continue holding these robocallers accountable for their often abusive and illegal practices.”

In 2015, the president signed into law a government debt exception to the TCPA. The exception allows for calls and texts to collect on debts owed or guaranteed to the federal government. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated that exception and severed it from rest of the TCPA. Later, a district court ruled in Lindenbaum v. Realgy that because part of the law was struck down, the TCPA is invalid and cannot be used to hold robocallers accountable for their actions between 2015 and 2020.

The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asks the court to reverse the lower court’s ruling and argues that the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision made clear that the invalid government-debt exception did not affect the TCPA’s primary robocall ban. It further argues that the district court’s decision was inconsistent with basic principles on severability.

State attorneys general are at the forefront of the fight against robocalls, which are immensely frustrating and can cause real financial harm to people. In January 2020, people received more than 4.7 billion robocalls nationwide. The attorneys general have several ongoing enforcement actions under the TCPA and invalidating the law on a technicality would let robocallers off the hook.

Attorney General Tong is joined in filing this brief by the Attorneys General of North Carolina, Indiana, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
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