NEW YORK — Major phone companies are telling the country’s state attorneys general that they will do more against robocalls.
It’s the latest step from government and industry to combat the growing problem. Americans get nearly 5 billion calls from scammers, telemarketers, debt collectors and others every month. The agreement echoes some steps already taken by regulators and Congress, which is working on anti-robocall bills.
The state AGs say phone companies will offer call-blocking tools free to all but traditional landline users. They will also block calls for everyone at the network level. The Federal Communications Commission has called on phone companies to block unwanted calls and expects carriers not to charge. It also calls on them to make sure caller ID numbers are real, not faked.
The agreement doesn’t have a timeline.
“This is a step in the right direction toward solving a pervasive problem that burdens people across the country,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “Robocalls cost consumers time and money, as well as violate their privacy. I will continue to protect the rights of Illinois consumers by fighting against this illegal practice.”
According to a news release, the 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.
Also, 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 call traceback identification, where they work backward and attempt to identify the caller.
Contributing: David Roeder