State officials search for ways to stop robocalls

OYSI: States work to stop robocalls

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Fed up with a lack of meaningful results, 39 Attorneys General across the country are working to reduce the volume of robocalls to cell phone customers.

“It’s a customer service issue for our telecom providers,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said. “[Attorneys General] have come together to really bring a little of that political pressure to bear on them. The Alabama Legislature does have limited authority in this area, but federal preemption plays a significant role.”

Not waiting for the Federal Trade Commission to act, Attorney General Marshall and his colleagues are pushing providers to do more in the fight against unwanted and scam phone calls.

“The good thing is we know is that we have the ability through technology to try to help this problem,” said Marshall. “What we need to be able to do is have other companies be more like AT&T and Charter/Spectrum, who have been more proactive on this issue. We need our other providers to take that example and use their leadership to help consumers not only in Alabama, but throughout the country.”

Robocalls are already rampant and it is only getting worse. Yahoo Finance reports those automated junk calls are expected to account for nearly half of all phone calls within the next few months. Experts across the industry agree the prevalence of cheap methods for making contact with millions of phone numbers a year has allowed the problem to grow out of control. The unwanted calls disrupt legitimate business, frustrate cell phone users and frequently perpetuate scams.

“Technology has allowed people who would do improper things to spoof legitimate phone numbers. In fact, we’ve had people tell us they’ve received calls from an Attorney General’s number,” said Marshall. “We need people to be diligent, to be skeptical, and to demand things in writing that are requested of them. Also, voicemail is a beautiful thing.”

Marshall has not announced what the next step is for the state coalition, but asks Alabamians to notify the Consumer Protection Division of his office if they have been the victim of a scam, and to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission if a specific phone number has been identified.

New services offered through apps and cell phone companies can assist people in blocking robocalls. Forbes recently published a variety of methods for getting in touch with your provider and taking advantage of iPhone and Android capabilities that already exist on your device.

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