AG Curtis Hill calls on FCC to provide states’ greater power to fight robocalls and spoofing
Attorney General Curtis Hill hascalled on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules to allow telephone service providers to block more illegal robocalls being made to consumers in Indiana. He is part of a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general issuing a formal comment to the FCC. The formal comment explains that scammers using illegal robocalls have found ways to evade a call-blocking order entered last year by the FCC. Despite the FCC’s order, robocalls continue to be a major irritant to consumers in Indiana and across the United States. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General receives thousands of complaints each year with respect to illegal calls, including scam calls, telemarketing complaints and robocalls. Following an initial win for American consumers last year by the bipartisan coalition, when the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls, the attorneys general now seek added authority for the providers to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls – including “neighbor spoofing.” One tactic on the rise is “neighbor spoofing,” a technique that allows calls – no matter where they originate – to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code as the consumer. This manipulation of caller ID information increases the likelihood that the consumer will answer the call. In the formal comment, Attorney General Hill and members of the coalition expressed support for the new initiative, which will give phone service providers the ability to authenticate legitimate calls and identify illegally spoofed calls and block them. The added authority sought by the attorneys general will allow service providers to use new technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019. To date, the FCC has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning additional provider-initiated call blocking. The attorneys general anticipate that further requests for comments will take place on this subject. The added authority which the attorneys general seek from the FCC is not in conflict with Indiana’s Do Not Call List, in which consumers sign up to avoid receiving calls from legitimate vendors. The initiative for which the attorneys general seek FCC approval concerns illegal robocalls – which are made to consumers regardless of whether or not they sign up for do-not-call lists.
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