Briefline

51 attorneys general unite against robocalls, call for FCC action

By: - August 9, 2021 3:19 pm

“We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty.” Sound familiar? It’s a phrase many people know by heart, thanks to the proliferation of unwelcome robocalls.

From July 2020 through June 2021, the Federal Trade Commission fielded 114,000 complaints from Coloradans who received unwanted sales calls despite having signed up for the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry. The most commonly reported topic of the unwanted calls was “warranty and protection plans,” followed by “imposters,” according to FTC data.

More than 70% of the unwanted calls were robocalls, the data show.

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Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, united with the attorneys general of the 49 other states and the District of Columbia to call for action against unwanted robocalls. The attorneys general submitted a joint comment on the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to shorten the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led the coalition.

In 2019, Congress passed a law mandating that telephone companies adopt a caller ID technology called STIR/SHAKEN to combat illegal robocalls. STIR/SHAKEN allows the phone company of the person receiving a call to verify that the call is in fact coming from the number displayed on caller ID.

The FCC calls the technology “critical” for protecting so-called “spoofed” robocalls, “because it erodes the ability of callers to illegally spoof a caller ID, which scammers use to trick Americans into answering their phones when they shouldn’t.”

The FCC’s deadline for larger telephone companies to adopt the technology was June of this year, but smaller companies got an extension until June 2023. Now, the FCC has proposed a new deadline of June 2022 for smaller companies.

“While shortening the extension period by one year is a good starting point, we strongly encourage the Commission to require this subset of small voice providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN as soon as possible,” the attorneys general wrote in their joint comment on the proposal.

In a statement, Weiser’s office claimed that some of the smaller telephone providers are “responsible for originating or facilitating high volumes of the illegal robocalls that spam Americans and lead to financial or personal data loss.”

The statement described unwanted phone calls as one of the most common types of complaints reported to the attorney general’s consumer complaint website, StopFraudColorado.gov.

“Robocalls continue to plague Coloradans, and my office is committed to protecting consumers from these harmful, annoying tactics,” Weiser said in the statement. “By requiring phone companies to step up their efforts to block these calls, we can reduce the continual disruption they cause to our daily lives.”

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Reporter Faith Miller covers the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories for Colorado Newsline.

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