Attorney General Peter F. Neronha today announced that as a result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 11 phone companies he has joined, the phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls. This agreement will help protect phone users from illegal robocalls and make it easier for this Office to investigate and prosecute bad actors.
"If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is the widely shared disdain of robocalls," said Attorney General Neronha. "These calls are at least an annoyance; at most, deceitful. Anything we can do to prevent these illegal calls that interrupt people's daily lives on a regular basis is a positive step. Engaging phone companies to work with us and assist in this effort is a win for consumers."
Estimates place the number of robocalls received by Rhode Island residents in January 2019 alone at around 10 million calls or 350,000 a day. Spoofing, specifically, is increasingly a practice deployed against unsuspecting Rhode Islanders.
The principles, available here, address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.
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.
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 traceback identification.
Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.
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.
The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windstream.