All 50 states attorneys general promise litigation against telecom companies facilitating...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,523   +1,056
Staff member
In context: Robocalls are a nuisance at best and a threat to personal information and financial security at worst. While telecoms have made efforts to reduce automated and scammy telemarketing calls, they are still a significant problem because of the lack of enforcement to entities outside United States jurisdiction.

To address the situation, a consortium of US attorneys general has formed a task force to give current anti-robocalling and telemarketing laws and regulations more teeth. They propose going after what they call "gateway providers." These are telecoms that enable or allow this type of traffic onto their networks, usually because they stand to profit from it.

North Carolina AG Josh Stein, Indiana's Todd Rokita, and Ohio AG Dave Yost head up the newly formed Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force. The group includes AGs from all 50 states. It aims to fight robocalls by suing US gateway providers, which in theory would be more effective than trying to litigate against fly-by-night foreign companies that are the source of the calls.

"I've been leading the effort by state attorneys general to work with the federal government and phone companies to fight robocalls," said Stein in a press release announcing the task force. "But we're also going to take action against phone companies that violate state and federal laws."

Stein points out that he has already filed one lawsuit against a gateway provider from outside his state of North Carolina called Articul8. This company allegedly routed over 65 million robocalls to phone numbers in his home state alone, resulting in some 50 to 200 calls per day for NC residents.

The AG also cites studies showing that of all the automated calls made to US residents, over 33 million are scams, including Social Security cons targeting seniors, fake Amazon reps, and other fraudulent calls. Analysts estimate that scam operations stole almost $30 billion from US residents in 2021, most of it coming from offshore companies.

As long as US providers can rake in profits from shady telemarketers and scammers outside the States, they will. So the task force aims to hit these providers in their pocketbooks to discourage them from enabling these annoying and threatening calls.

Will their efforts be enough to stop all automated calls? Of course not. Some robocalls are legitimate. For instance, rings from your child's school or school district informing you of events, closures, and other school-related information are legal under all current legislation. Targets are only those that look to rip people off, which is still a gray area under the law.

For example, are companies trying to sell you an extended warranty on your car scams or legit business calls? It could go either way. As long as the company does sell what it says and is not just phishing or taking your money while providing nothing, regulators consider it legal even though it can be just as annoying as scam calls.

Anything that shoots to reduce the number of robocalls everyone receives daily should be welcome. Of course, time will tell exactly how effective the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force is.

Image credit: Karen Roach

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Hexic

Posts: 1,237   +1,926
TechSpot Elite
I work for a small/medium telecom/ISP/IPTV and trust me we hate them as much as everyone else. Most are infected phone systems that act as relays and adds huge charges to our local customers.

Man, years back it was cat and mouse on what client's PBX got compromised through non-existent/VM PINs, and how much they got screwed by automated collect calls from South Africa and Asia.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 879   +1,518
My phone has blown up with spam calls since this legislation passed. I don't even answer my phone anymore.

I don't know what's worse, the spam calls or spam texts. Every f'ing election season, about 3 months before elections, I get a crap ton of spam calls about politicians and texts about them; why such-and-such person is bad or good and what you can do to help by clicking a link or responding to the text or opening the attached image/file.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 730   +1,159
I don't know what's worse, the spam calls or spam texts. Every f'ing election season, about 3 months before elections, I get a crap ton of spam calls about politicians and texts about them; why such-and-such person is bad or good and what you can do to help by clicking a link or responding to the text or opening the attached image/file.
At least since moving out of California into Alabama, it's easy to ignore all spam phone calls. Spam texts would probably be more annoying to me, but I don't get many of them.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,206   +2,740
Gonna be hard to enforce if they are coming OUTSIDE of the USA.
Most phone calls these days are VoIp, not "landline". With a computer and the right network, you can set up robo calls to anywhere.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,821   +6,789
I don't know what's worse, the spam calls or spam texts. Every f'ing election season, about 3 months before elections, I get a crap ton of spam calls about politicians and texts about them; why such-and-such person is bad or good and what you can do to help by clicking a link or responding to the text or opening the attached image/file.
Now if only there were some legislation to make political robo calls illegal. We've gotten political robo calls from all over the country - mostly from people we would never vote for even if you paid us to vote for them.

If political robo calls were illegal, I'm sure every politician from every party would think its the end of the world. :rolleyes:
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,821   +6,789
So when can we expect legislation that requires telecom companies to make it impossible to spoof your caller ID?
I think this is partly to combat the fact that laws are ignored because there is no consequence for ignoring them.

We already have our telecom provider providing a "Potential SPAM" caller ID. Its rather funny when our telephone - that reads caller ID and announces it aloud, says "Potential SPAM". It really does not matter to us anyway since we never answer the phone except for the rare instances where we actually recognized the number.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,024   +1,220
What I don't get are these robocalls I get where it's just a voicemail in Chinese. Like seriously, what is the point?
I once went through a great deal of effort to find out: recorded the whole message, managed to find a speech-to-text program that worked in Mandarin, and then translated it to english. Basically, its a message saying that you have fines/fees/taxes that you (or your family) owe the Chinese government, and you need to pay up or risk your family being arrested. It also used to be if you looked up the number that called you, it was from the Chinese consulate closest to you (I assume spoofed). I asked a classmate about them, and he basically said its not unheard of to get a call from the government about taxes/fees/fines while overseas, but it is always a real person on the other end - never a recording. The recorded ones are scams.