Utah Attorney General joins coalition to reduce number of spam calls nationwide

Composite image with background photo by Massimo Vernicesole and overlay by Tamas-V/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined forces with 51 attorneys general and 12 telecommunications companies to protect phone users from illegal robocalls.

The group hopes to reduce the number of these calls by making it easier to prosecute the “bad actors” that are responsible for the more than 25 billion robocalls placed so far this year.

A Hiya report reveals there were 25.3 billion robocalls made to U.S. cell phones during the first half of 2019 | Infographic by Cody Blowers, St. George News

In 2018, there were more than 26 billion spam calls made in total. In the first six months of 2019, more than 25 billion spam calls were placed to consumer’s cell phones, nearly reaching the total number of calls from last year, according to the “State of the Call” report conducted by Hiya.

To combat the scourge of illegal calls being made across the beehive state, Reyes has joined a coalition between 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies in an agreement to address the robocall problem on two fronts — prevention and enforcement, according to a statement released by the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls, protect their customers and punish bad actors by staying in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general and optimizing robocall protections amid ever-changing technology and scammer techniques.

Americans are being bothered by more nuisances calls and scams each day. According to a Federal Communications Commission report, roughly half of all calls made to cellphones in the U.S. this year will be spam.

The problem is so pervasive that the number of calls being made on average is down 20%, and fewer than half of all calls made to mobile phones are answered.

“No single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” Henning Schulzrinne, Levi professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Columbia University, said in a press release.

Phone companies will play a role in assisting in the anti-robocall enforcement by taking the following steps:

  • 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 to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in “traceback” identification to determine the sources of the calls.

Schulzrinne said if the plan is going to work, the telecommunication industry will need to commit to implementing these strategies and to work with state and federal authorities to accomplish one primary goal, “to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”

The coalition of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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