Attorney General Tong Works to Stop International Scam Calls
(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put in place measures that will help stem the tide of foreign-based illegal robocalls that attempt to scam Americans. Today’s comment letter to the FCC was led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
“Robocalls aren’t just annoying — they are a top tool of scammers seeking to steal our money, identities and personal information. We have the technology to block spam robocalls and have successfully reduced the number of these incessant and intrusive calls, but we need the FCC to put measures in place to block foreign-based illegal robocalls that try to scam Americans,” said Attorney General Tong. “Our work fighting the scourge of robocalls has just begun, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting American families from these malicious calls, no matter where they come from. Our website has recently been updated to allow consumers to directly submit audio recordings of robocalls. If you have been the victim of an illegal robocall, I want to know.”
Attorney General Tong and a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general are calling for the FCC to require gateway providers – the companies that allow foreign calls into the United States – to take steps to reduce how easily robocalls have been able to enter the U.S. telephone network, including implementing STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology that helps prevent spoofed calls. Gateway providers should be required to implement this technology within 30 days of it becoming a rule to help eliminate spoofed calls and to make sure that international calls that originate from U.S. telephone numbers are legitimate. In December, Attorney General Tong and a coalition of 51 attorneys general successfully helped to persuade the FCC to shorten by a year the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN.
The attorneys general are asking the FCC to require these gateway providers to take additional measures to reduce robocalls, including:
• Responding to requests from law enforcement, state attorneys general, or the FCC to trace back calls within 24 hours.
• Blocking calls when providers are aware of an illegal or likely fraudulent caller.
• Blocking calls that originate from numbers that are on a “do not originate” list – such as government phone numbers that are for incoming calls only.
• Ensuring that foreign telephone companies they partner with are ensuring that calls are being made from legitimate numbers.
The attorneys general are also encouraging the FCC to require all phone companies to block calls from a gateway provider if it fails to meet these requirements. Illegal robocalls are a scourge – in 2020, Americans lost more than $520 million through robocall scams.
Attorney General Tong is joined in sending this letter to the FCC by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
A copy of the letter is available here.
Help bolster investigations in Connecticut by reporting your robocalls to CT Attorney General: e-Complaint Form. Connecticut’s website complaint intake has been recently revamped to gather robocall-specific complaint data.