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Attorney General Reyes Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Robocalls Ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES STATEMENT ON U.S. SUPREME COURT
ROBOCALLS RULING

SALT LAKE CITY — Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld the federal robocall ban with its decision in Barr v. AAPC. Earlier this year, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes signed onto an amicus brief in support of the ban as part of a 33-state coalition of attorneys general.
 
Attorney General Reyes’ statement is below:
 

“I’m glad the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the government’s authority to ban these robocalls, but this is just one piece of the bigger picture,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Our real concern will be to empower my state and federal partners to even more aggressively protect Utahns and Americans from crimes like financial fraud and identity theft.” 

“There are robocalls that are acceptable for things like school reminders and acceptable business contacts,” Reyes continued.  “We need to continue to fight the millions of unchecked robocalls annually that unscrupulous businesses and predators use to exploit unsuspecting consumers across America. Many of these calls originate overseas.”

Attorney General Reyes has worked diligently to ensure telephone carriers can aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through ongoing collaborations with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the Telecom industry and a coalition of state attorneys general.  Reyes urged the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which enables the industry to develop call authentication protocols to combat caller- ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures and demanded the FCC take expedient action in the Truth in Caller ID Act rulemaking process against illegal spoofing. Reyes was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people, which were adopted by 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers in August 2019. 

Reyes added: “I have worked for years on this issue to ensure a balance of enforcement against bad actors on one hand and not getting in the way of legitimate business or public service contacts on the other.  Tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars are lost yearly to these types of scams and identity frauds. I am very pleased that the High Court today reaffirmed the government’s authority to ban illegal robocalls.”

“I am proud to work with a bipartisan group of state attorneys general to protect our citizens from illegal robocalls. I will continue to do everything in my power to fight this threat in Utah and America,” said Attorney General Reyes.

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Attorney General Reyes Continues Work With FCC to Expose Illegal Robocallers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2020

EXPOSING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLERS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES CONTINUES WORK WITH FCC ON TRACED ACT ENFORCEMENT

SALT LAKE CITY– Attorney General Sean Reyes is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue the focus on ‘tracing back’ illegal robocalls at their source, using collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies and in partnership with the State Attorneys General Robocall Working Group on this issue.

Under the TRACED Act, which became law in December 2019, the FCC will select a single registered association to manage the work to trace back illegal robocalls. Because a call can pass through the networks of many telecom companies before reaching its destination, tracing that call—which is key to enforcing our laws against illegal robocallers—requires collaboration among telecom companies and state attorneys general. In their comments, the States note that traceback investigations are necessary for law enforcement to identify and investigate illegal robocallers and expose voice service providers that assist and facilitate illegal robocallers more efficiently.

For the last few years, state attorneys general have encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of traceback investigations each month. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Traceback investigations are more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.  

Since 2018, Utah has been a member of a coalition of states working with the telecom industry to attack the scourge of robocalls in a comprehensive way by implementing common-sense business practices to minimize illegal robocalls and trace these calls back to their source. Attorney General Reyes is joined in submitting today’s comments by the Attorneys General of 52 States and Territories.

A copy of the comments is available here.

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Attorney General Reyes Fights to Further Crackdown on Illegal Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2020

Attorney General Reyes Fights to Further Crackdown on Illegal Robocalls, Urges Industry to Help Increase Enforcement Against Fraudulent Calls
Utah Joins Other States in Bipartisan Letter to USTelecom

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in calling on USTelecom – the leading organization representing telecommunications providers – and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with state attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers.
 
In a letter to USTelecom, the coalition is urging the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited to law enforcement and regulatory needs.
 
“For many years, I have been fighting this threat to protect Utah citizens from illegal robocallers, but these criminals are very persistent, and it is a lucrative enterprise,” Attorney General Reyes said. “The problem is massive and complex. And to be clear, we are not talking about the type of robocalls that may be annoying but are not fraudulent or dangerous. We are talking about ones that lead to economic or physical exploitation and leave people with ruined lives and finances. We must work even more closely with Telecom leaders to combat these criminal robocalls. We need the right set of tools to combat this pervasive threat, and furthering this collaboration is a step in the right direction.”
 
The letter asks USTelecom to advance the ITG’s abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations; and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.
 
A key part of that action would be for USTelecom to develop and roll out an online platform to collect live data from carriers and robocall-blocking apps. When USTelecom or a law enforcement agency detects an illegal robocall campaign, the law enforcement agency would then be able to submit a subpoena to USTelecom in a streamlined online portal.
 
The process would allow for rapid review by USTelecom and provide law enforcement agencies the ability to expedite subpoena procedures and access the platform to quickly retrieve relevant data. The platform would bolster law enforcement investigations and could potentially lead to attorneys general offices issuing temporary restraining orders that could stop a live robocall campaign in its tracks.
 
The coalition’s letter follows a January 2020 meeting in Washington, D.C., with representatives from state attorneys general offices, federal agencies and the telecom industry. Some priorities developed at that meeting include:

  • Automating and increasing the total volume of traceback investigations;
  • Alerting relevant law enforcement agencies of suspected illegal robocall campaigns;
  • Enabling law enforcement agencies to electronically upload and receive responses to subpoenas and civil investigative demands, and providing swift response to those requests; and
  • Identifying noncooperative Voice Service Providers, including those that do not participate in the traceback process, repeatedly originate or accept illegal robocalls, or repeatedly fail to provide sufficient records. 

The coalition believes these measures would strengthen the partnership between the USTelecom-backed ITG and attorneys general, a relationship that led to the creation of the Anti-Robocall Principles. Those principles were established in August 2019 when 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers took aim at reducing the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people.
 
More recently – and due in part to the support from the telecommunications industry and state attorneys general – the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was signed into law by the federal government. This law enables the industry to develop call-authentication protocols to combat caller-ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures.
 
Read a copy of the letter here.

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AG Reyes Joins Bipartisan Fight Against Robocalls With U.S. Supreme Court Filing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2020

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN FIGHT AGAINST NUISANCE ROBOCALLS WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT FILING

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes on Monday joined a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for the preservation of the anti-robocall provisions of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and North Carolina Attorney General Joshua Stein co-authored the bipartisan brief, which is joined by 31 other states.

The TCPA, enacted in 1991, is a critical piece of federal consumer-protection legislation allowing states to sue illegal robocallers on their residents’ behalf. A decision in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently invalidated a portion of the act, potentially jeopardizing the entire federal robocall ban.

“Everyone hates those constant robocalls, which are both annoying and harmful at times,” Attorney General Reyes said. “On behalf of Utah consumers, I am continuing our state’s fight to safeguard peace and privacy without the disturbance of unwanted calls interrupting people’s routines at all hours of the day and night.”

“No court has ever questioned the constitutionality of the TCPA’s robocall restriction, and we must ensure no such challenge is ever taken seriously,” Attorney General Hill said. “We have state laws prohibiting robocalls right here in Indiana, and we must defend our ability both at the federal and state levels to continue protecting Hoosiers from annoying and illegal robocalls.”

Attorney General Reyes continues working with other states’ attorneys general, federal agencies and telephone service providers to develop better technologies and stronger regulations aimed at blocking nuisance phone calls, some of which are perpetrated by scammers and identity thieves.

Read the brief filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court here.

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TRACED Act Signed Into Law, Will Provide Protection Against Robocalls

January 3, 2020

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act into law. This legislation addresses the concerns raised by American consumers and will stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to provide protection against and end the proliferation of illegal, unsolicited robocalls.

In March 2019, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with 54 attorneys general in sending a letter to Congress to express support for the TRACED Act. The attorneys general applauded the requirement that voice service providers must participate in the call authentication framework, and the prioritization of timely, industry-wide implementation of these protocols.

From the letter to Congress:

“We believe that this legislation effectively addresses many of the concerns raised by federal regulators, voice service providers, private businesses, consumer advocacy groups, and other interested parties to combat illegal robocalls and spoofing, and we are heartened that it enables the telecom industry, federal regulators, and our offices to take meaningful steps to abate the rapid proliferation of these illegal and unwanted robocalls.”

Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57% from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, it was estimated that the number of illegal robocalls reached almost 48 billion.

“Robocalls have become more than just a persistent disruption in the lives of Utahns. So many of these calls are, at best, a vexatious nuisance or, at worst, a scam. I commend President Trump and Congress working together to provide protection and relief for all of us against illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Reyes. “My office and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection receive numerous complaints each month and far too many Utahans are victimized by these illegal robocalls. The TRACED Act finally gives criminal enforcement authority to regulators to deter robodial abuses and return control of phone lines to everyday Americans.”

Read the TRACED Act here.

Fighting Robocalls: Utah AG Reyes Joins 51 Attorneys General, 12 Telecommunication Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



FIGHTING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS 51 ATTORNEYS GENERAL 12 TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES

SALT LAKE CITY—Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has announced an agreement to protect phone users by fighting illegal robocalls and to make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute ‘bad actors’. This agreement is the result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies. 

The phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls in order to help protect phone customers and to punish bad actors. The principles, available here, 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 of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
 
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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Utah AG Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2019

Utah Attorney General Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The attorneys general delivered formal legal comments to the FCC urging the adoption of its proposed caller ID spoofing rules and enforcement. These rules specifically address calls to the United States that originated from overseas and includes spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services. These provisions included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill are also known as the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

From the comments to the FCC:

The exponential growth in unlawful scam robocalls is putting more and more of our vulnerable populations at risk. The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough.

“Not only are these robocalls and spoof phone calls annoying, they’re illegal,” said Attorney General Reyes. “As Attorney General, I call on the FCC to take immediate action in order to protect Utah consumers from scams that too often victimize our citizens.”
 
Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Utah Department of Commerce stated, “The Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection supports all efforts to combat deceptive spoofing, bogus text messages and illegal robocalls pinging consumers’ phones. These phony scams continue to be a huge problem where too many consumers are losing money, so let’s look for solutions.”
 
The number of spoofed calls and the consumer financial losses tied to these scams have increased by nearly 50 percent in recent years. The offices of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah Department of Commerce receive many complaints about these calls every month.
 
Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, in 2018, the FCC reports that Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls resulting in nearly $488 million lost.
 
The coalition sending formal comments to the FCC was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and included Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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NOTES:
1. A copy of the comments to the FCC from the 42 state attorneys general can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FCC-Spam-Spoofing-petition.pdf.

Battling illegal robocalls & spoofing

November 19, 2018

Illegal robocalls and spoofing have cost Americans billions of dollars in fraudulent claims. According to a study by Truecaller, Americans lost $9.5 billion in 2017 to robocall and spoofing scams, and it’s only expected to increase. 

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined 34 other state AGs urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules that would require service providers to block illegally spoofed calls or help identify a potential scam for consumers. In the letter, the state AGs reaffirmed their commitment to providing public education, responding to consumer complaints, and taking appropriate action when needed – but it’s not enough. The AGs strongly recommended the FCC explore ways to identify technology that could combat fraudulent calls and utilize every tool available to help protect Americans. 

You can read the letter from the AGs here: A Letter to the FCC About Robocalls.

Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich had the opportunity to visit with Lori Prichard of KSL-TV on behalf of the Office of the Utah Attorney General to discuss robocalls, steps federal and state leaders are taking, and what you can do in the meantime to protect yourself. 

You can find more information on the FCC’s push to combat robocalls and spoofing and tips to protect yourself here

Photo by rawpixel

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