Utah joins fight against robocalls

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced Tuesday that he has joined a bipartisan group of 40 state attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. This coalition is reviewing the technology major telecom companies are pursuing to combat illegal robocalls.

However, Reyes was certain point out in a media statement from his office that they were not referring to calls protected by the First Amendment, including political messages or calls from charitable organizations.

“While some find these calls annoying, they are legal,” Reyes said in the statement. “However, if the recording is a sales pitch and you have not provided authorization, the call is illegal.”

Reyes said that in order to trick people into answering a call, many robocalls fake the caller ID information you see on your phone.

“This is called spoofing and is also illegal,” he said. “It is these practices and types of robocalls we are focused on stopping.”

According to the statement from Reyes’ offices, over 187 million illegal robocalls were made to Utahns in 2017 alone.

“These calls often harm our most vulnerable populations with scams and improper business practices,” he said. “It is my hope and belief that this bipartisan group will be able to find real solutions to help protect not just Utahns, but all Americans. I am grateful for Francine Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, and her team, for their dedicated efforts to address these abuses in our state.”

The Utah Department of Commerce consistently receives reports of robocalls to Utahns. The department investigates complaints and has in some instances successfully taken legal action against callers pitching student loan debt consolidation, vacation packages, solar energy and timeshare resales, among other areas. While the Department takes action when it can identify the caller, many robocalls originate overseas or use spoofed numbers to evade enforcement. Giani said this makes their job more difficult.

“When consumers are scammed through these calls, it is very difficult if not impossible for the Department of Commerce to find the perpetrator and get the consumers’ money back,” she said. “We support the Attorneys General and other efforts to combat robocalls before they make it to consumers’ phones.”

Since its formation, the multistate group has had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies. These productive meetings have led to greater information sharing about the technological capabilities currently in existence or in development to fight these calls.

Utah Attorney General Reyes and his colleagues are working toward the following:

  • Develop a detailed understanding of what is technologically feasible to minimize unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarketing,
  • Engage the major telecom companies to encourage them to expedite the best possible solutions for consumers, and
  • Determine whether states should make further recommendations to the FCC.

Utah joins the coalition, led by Attorneys General Josh Stein, North Carolina; Curtis Hill, Indiana; and Gordon MacDonald, New Hampshire. It also includes attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

 

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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