FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2018
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES WORKS TO COMBAT ROBOCALLS
Utah AG joins 40 state attorneys general to review technology solutions
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced today that he has joined a bipartisan group of 40 state attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. This coalition is reviewing the technology major telecom companies are pursuing to combat illegal robocalls.
“To be clear, we are not talking about first amendment protected robocalls like political messages or calls from bona fide charities. While some find these calls annoying, they are legal,” stated Attorney General Reyes. “However, if the recording is a sales pitch and you have not provided authorization, the call is illegal. To trick you into answering a call, many robocalls fake the caller ID information you see on your phone. This is called spoofing and is also illegal. It is these practices and types of robocalls we are focused on stopping. Over 187 million illegal robocalls were made to Utahns in 2017 alone. These calls often harm our most vulnerable populations with scams and improper business practices. It is my hope and belief that this bipartisan group will be able to find real solutions to help protect not just Utahns, but all Americans. I am grateful for Francine Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, and her team, for their dedicated efforts to address these abuses in our state.”
The Utah Department of Commerce consistently receives reports of robocalls to Utahns. The Department investigates complaints and has in some instances successfully taken legal action against callers pitching student loan debt consolidation, vacation packages, solar energy, and timeshare resales, among other areas. While the Department takes action when it can identify the caller, many robocalls originate overseas or use spoofed numbers to evade enforcement.
“Consumers are bombarded by robocalls faking local numbers and originating overseas,” stated Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Francine Giani. “When consumers are scammed through these calls, it is very difficult if not impossible for the Department of Commerce to find the perpetrator and get the consumers’ money back. We support the Attorneys General and other efforts to combat robocalls before they make it to consumers’ phones.”
Since its formation, the multistate group has had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies. These productive meetings have led to greater information sharing about the technological capabilities currently in existence or in development to fight these calls.
Utah Attorney General Reyes and his colleagues are working to:
- Develop a detailed understanding of what is technologically feasible to minimize unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarketing,
- Engage the major telecom companies to encourage them to expedite the best possible solutions for consumers, and
- Determine whether states should make further recommendations to the FCC.
Utah joins the coalition, led by Attorney General Josh Stein (NC), Attorney General Curtis Hill (IN), and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald (NH), and includes attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
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- AG Reyes recently joined 34 other state AGs and sent a letter urging the FCC to explore ways to combat fraudulent calls. Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich spoke with KSL-TV about that letter, robocalls, spoofing, and a new technology seeking to address this issue. You can find that letter and interview here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/battling-illegal-robocalls-spoofing/.
- The Utah Department of Commerce provides resources when dealing with illegal robocalls and telemarketing. Find more information on that here: https://dcp.utah.gov/registrations/telemarketing.html.