AG Becerra Secures Commitment from Telecommunications Industry to Take Actions to Stop Robocalls

SACRAMENTO August 23, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a nationwide coalition of 51 attorneys general, announced an agreement with 12 telecommunications (telecom) providers on a set of principles intended to limit and prevent robocalls. The providers have agreed to incorporate these principles into their business practices. This agreement comes from the work of the coalition of attorneys general who in 2018 formed the Robocall Technologies Working Group. The group collaborated with telecom providers to make it more difficult for scammers to use robocall technologies to intrude upon and defraud consumers.

All 50 states, and the District of Columbia have joined this agreement with the following telecom companies: AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.

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“We applaud the efforts of these telecommunications companies to stop unwanted robocalls,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Robocalls initiated from fake numbers are more than just a nuisance – they’re illegal. Today’s announcement is a useful step toward eliminating these types of calls, which far too often lead to identify theft and financial loss. Consumers must continue to be vigilant. However, today’s commitment by our industry partners is a step in the right direction to provide every landline and wireless customer with access to free and effective call-blocking tools.”

Illegal and unwanted robocalls harm consumers and interrupt our daily lives. Consumer fraud often originates with a robocall. Robocalls and telemarketing calls are currently the number one source of consumer complaints to both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Comission (FTC). During 2018, according to the FTC, consumers reported a total loss of $429 million as a result of these phone-based frauds.

The efforts of the Robocall Technologies Working Group represent a positive step towards combatting scams perpetrated through robocalls. The adopted principles commit the providers to:

  • Offer free call blocking and labeling to stop robocalls before they reach consumers;
  • Implement STIR/SHAKEN to ensure that numbers are not illegally spoofed and to prevent scammers from providing a number they are not authorized to use;
  • Analyze and monitor network traffic to identify and monitor patterns consistent with robocalls;
  • Investigate suspicious calls and calling patterns and seek to identify the party and take appropriate action;
  • Confirm the identity of commercial customers by collecting information such as location, contact persons, state or country of incorporation, federal tax ID, and nature of the customer’s business;
  • Require traceback cooperation in call interconnection contracts by seeking language requiring voice service providers to identify the upstream carrier from which a suspected illegal robocall entered its network or to where the call originated in its network;
  • Cooperate in traceback investigations by dedicating resources to respond to requests from law enforcement and the US Telecom’s Industry Traceback Group, so that scammers can be identified and prosecuted; and
  • Communicate with state attorneys general about scams and trends in illegal robocalling.

The Attorney General has also repeatedly called on the FCC to take action to stop robocalls, and he continues to urge the FCC to take actions consistent with today’s agreement between state attorneys general and telecommunications carriers. That includes support for the FCC’s orders authorizing carriers to implement call blocking systems, as well as support for the FCC’s stated intention to mandate the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN by the end of 2019 if it is not voluntarily implemented.

A copy of today’s agreement can be found here.