‘The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough’; Utah pushes FCC to address spoofing calls

Stock image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced Tuesday that he had joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general calling on the Federal Communications Commission to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The attorneys general delivered formal legal comments to the FCC urging the adoption of its proposed caller ID spoofing rules and enforcement. According to a press release from Reyes’ office, these rules specifically address calls to the United States that originated from overseas and includes spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services. These provisions included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill are also known as the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

From the comments to the FCC: “The exponential growth in unlawful scam robocalls is putting more and more of our vulnerable populations at risk. The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough.”

In the press release, Reyes called robocalls and spoof phone calls not only “annoying” but also illegal.

“As Attorney General, I call on the FCC to take immediate action in order to protect Utah consumers from scams that too often victimize our citizens,” he said.

Reyes previously stated in December that the bipartisan group is 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,” he said. “However, if the recording is a sales pitch and you have not provided authorization, the call is illegal.”

Francine A. Giani, executive director for the Utah Department of Commerce, has expressed the Division of Consumer Protection’s support of efforts to combat “deceptive spoofing, bogus text messages and illegal robocalls pinging consumers’ phones.”

“These phony scams continue to be a huge problem where too many consumers are losing money,” Giani stated in the press release, “so let’s look for solutions.”

Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, the FCC reports that Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls in 2018, resulting in nearly $488 million lost.

The coalition sending formal comments to the FCC was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and includes attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

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