Attorney General Bonta: We Need Strong Action to Protect Consumers from Foreign Robocall Scams
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a bipartisan multistate coalition, urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take swift action to stop the flood of illegal foreign-based robocalls that “spoof” U.S. phone numbers by imposing additional obligations on the U.S.-based telecom companies that first receive such calls. Illegal and unwanted robocalls harm consumers and interrupt their daily lives. According to the FCC, the majority of robocall scams are perpetuated by foreign actors who gain access to the U.S. phone network through “gateway providers,” which are U.S.-based telecom companies that allow foreign calls to connect with U.S. phone lines. In the letter, the coalition urges the FCC to require gateway providers to quickly implement STIR/SHAKEN — a caller ID framework that is critical to detecting and blocking robocalls with “spoofed” caller IDs — and other robocall mitigation programs.
“Robocalls aren't just frustrating, they can lead to serious financial harm, and often it’s our most vulnerable who pay the price,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Despite significant progress, consumers still report an average of 1,900 phone- or text-based scams every day — and that’s just what’s being reported. Attorneys General have long been at the forefront of the fight to prevent illegal robocalls, and we’re not stopping now. I’m proud to join a bipartisan coalition in pushing the FCC to take aggressive action to tackle illegal robocalls from overseas. Every minute we wait, another consumer is at risk of falling victim to a scam.”
For Californians, the impact of illegal and unwanted robocalls can range from a momentary nuisance to serious fraud involving identity theft or life-changing financial losses. Phone calls and text messages are by far the most common contact method for fraud, and in 2020 alone, fraudulent phone calls and texts led to more than $500 million in reported financial losses nationwide. A foreign-based scammer’s ability to anonymously “spoof” a U.S. phone number significantly increases the likelihood that a scammer will be able to successfully defraud consumers.
Attorneys general have repeatedly pushed for the timely implementation of STIR/SHAKEN. In today's comments, a bipartisan coalition argues that the swift implementation by gateway providers of STIR/SHAKEN and the other proposed robocall mitigation programs, including “know your customer” requirements, timely participation in call tracebacks, and mandatory call blocking, will lead to a substantial decrease in consumer fraud and greater confidence for consumers about who is on the other end of the phone. The coalition expresses support for the FCC’s proposals but advocates for a shortened implementation deadline for STIR/SHAKEN authentication, suggesting 30 days after the rule is finalized, instead of March 1, 2023.
Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in filing the letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here.