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AG Denn urges FCC to take tougher stance on robocalls

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow telephone companies to block a certain type of robocall.


The FCC is currently considering a rule that would allow phone carriers to blockrobocallscoming from fake or unassigned phone numbers, also known as "spoofed" calls.


“These are calls that are made from numbers the carrier knows are not assigned and numbers that the carrier can easily identify as being fictitious," he said. "For example, these are calls that come from area codes that literally don’t exist.”


Denn and 28 other state attorneys general sent a joint letter to the FCC this week, urging it to adopt the rule.


“What this rule will do is simply allow the carriers to block the calls. It won’t compel them to. So it will still be on the carriers to actually take advantage of the authority this rule has given them and block these calls," Denn said.


The letter said no legitimate business uses “spoofed” robocalls from fake or unassigned phone numbers.


They are frequently used by scammers who want to conceal their identity.


"The number of telephone scam complaints has grown exponentially in recent years," the letter to the FCC reads.  


In 2014, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (which signed onto the letter) received 117 complaints about telephone scams.


In 2016, Arizona's AG received 1,151 calls about telephone scams—nearly a 1,000 percent rise in just two years.


Currently, regulatory roadblocks prevent telecommunications companies from blocking many illegal robocalls.


If the new rules are adopted, providers would be allowed to block calls coming from invalid numbers, unallocated numbers, and numbers whose owners have requested be blocked.


"This rule wouldn't stop the more sophisticated robocalls that can appear as though they’re coming from a legitimate source, like the IRS, for example," Denn said. "But it would put a stop to the less sophisticated calls from nonexistent and unassigned numbers."


Denn said his office receives numerous complaints about robocalls, but doesn’t have the jurisdiction to do anything about them.


The FCC governs robocalls and lists them as the "number one consumer complaint."


Attorney General Denn was joined on the letter by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

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