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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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October 11, 2018

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN CALLS ON FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION TO STOP ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS AND SPOOFING

Madigan & 33 Attorneys General Urge the FCC to Let Phone Companies Do More to Block Illegal Robocalls, Including Neighbor Spoofing

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan along with a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create new rules to allow telephone service providers to block more illegal robocalls flooding phones in Illinois and across the country.

In July 2017 Madigan and 29 attorneys general urged the FCC to give telephone service providers authority to block illegal robocalls, including calls from spoofed numbers. As a result, the FCC issued the 2017 Call Blocking Order last November. In comments submitted this week to the FCC, Madigan and the attorneys general express concern that scammers continue to circumvent the carriers’ efforts to block unwanted robocalls. The attorneys general are urging the FCC to give providers additional authority to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls, including “neighbor spoofing.”

“As I continue to try and protect consumers from the nuisance of unwanted robocalls, scammers continue to develop ways to circumvent the technology and the law,” Madigan said. “I urge the FCC to act quickly and encourage providers to develop and implement new detection and blocking technology as soon as possible.”

“Spoofing” is when a call appears to come from one phone number but is actually coming from a different number, making it difficult to identify the caller or trace the call. Increasingly, scammers are using a technique called “neighbor spoofing,” so that calls - no matter where they originate - appear on a caller ID as a phone number with same local area code as the consumer.

In their comments, Madigan and the attorneys general wrote:

“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection.”

Despite the FCC’s order, robocalls continue to be a consistent complaint by consumers nationwide. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million complaints regarding illegal robocalls, two and a half times more than it received in 2014. Illinois consumers filed nearly 300,000 complaints about robocalls in 2017.

In the formal comments, Madigan and the coalition expressed support for the 2017 Call Blocking Order, which gives phone service providers the ability to authenticate legitimate calls and identify and block illegally spoofed calls. The service providers are developing new technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls, even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. The comments also urge the providers to develop and implement this new technology as soon as possible in order to provide increased protection for consumers from unwanted robocalls.

Joining Madigan in submitting the comments were the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.

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