Principles call on providers to offer free call blocking services, investigate suspicious callers

DES MOINES, IOWA (August 22, 2019) — Attorney General Tom Miller announced that as a result of a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys-general, a dozen 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 attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

“Iowans are fed up with robocalls, and the calls are more than a hassle. Scammers are targeting vulnerable people,” AG Miller said. “These principles are a significant step toward reducing the number of illegal calls.”

The principles 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 principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University Henning Schulzrinne. “I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed."

The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington DC.

The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.

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