By Josh Stein
If you own a phone, you’ve probably been annoyed by unending robocalls. When I travel across our state, this is the number one concern people share with me. We’re receiving spam calls at all hours of the day, on our cell phones and our landlines. They’re not only frustrating, but they’re also harmful. They give scammers an easy way to reach us, scare us, and take our money.
That’s why, in August, I led a coalition that included every attorney general in the country and 12 major phone companies to create the national Anti-Robocall Principles to fight illegal robocalls. Through these eight principles, the phone companies – AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream – have committed to addressing the robocall problem through prevention and enforcement.
The phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls from reaching you by:
• Implementing technology that blocks spam calls without you having to do anything.
• Making additional call-blocking and identification tools available to you at no cost.
• Authenticating calls to make sure that they are coming from a valid source and aren’t being “spoofed” to look like a number you know or a number in your area code.
• Monitoring their networks for sources of robocall traffic.
These phone companies will also make it easier to go after scammers initiating these robocalls by:
• Identifying who their customers are so scammers can’t misrepresent that they’re legitimate callers.
• Investigating suspicious callers and notifying law enforcement and the attorneys general.
• Working with law enforcement to trace where illegal robocalls are coming from.
• Requiring the telephone companies they work with to help trace back calls.
Putting these principles in place will help reduce the number of robocalls you receive, and it will help my office and other law enforcement agencies go after the scammers who have been harassing North Carolinians for far too long. And we’ll continue working together so that as these scammers change their techniques and come up with new scams, we’re ready to stop them.
In the meantime, here’s what you can do right now to fight these robocalls. First, if you receive a robocall, hang up. You have no obligation to continue a conversation. If you question whether the call is from a legitimate company or government organization, you can always call the organization back at a number you look up yourself. If you’re given the option to accept a robocall, don’t. Go ahead and call your carrier or look online now to find out what other tools they might be able to provide to block these calls. And of course, report these unwanted callers and phone numbers to my office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
These principles are a major step forward in stopping robocalls from annoying us all. I will continue working with other states and phone companies to fight for your right to privacy and peace of mind from these scammers.
Josh Stein serves as attorney general for North Carolina.