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NY Attorney General Trying to Block Some Robocalls and Spoofing Techniques

By staff –

NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) help block illegal robocalls and neighbor spoofing.

Underwood says scammers using illegal robocalls have found ways to evade a call blocking order entered last year by the FCC.

“Unwanted robocalls aren’t just a nuisance – they’re a means for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting New Yorkers,” Underwood said. “New Yorkers have been bombarded with these illegal robocall scams – including the all-too-common spoofed calls that appear to come from a neighbor – and it’s time for federal action.”

Underwood’s actions came as part of a bipartisan coalition of 34 Attorneys General who filed formal comments with the FCC Tuesday.

“Spoofing” allows scammers to disguise their identities—no matter where they originate—to appear on a consumer’s caller ID as being made from a phone number that has the same local area code and exchange as the consumer. This technique makes it difficult for law enforcement to bring them to justice.

“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” the Attorneys General wrote in the comments filed with the FCC.

Last year, at the urging of a coalition of Attorneys General, the FCC granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls; the Attorneys General now seek added authority for the providers to work together to detect and block more illegal spoofed robocalls – including “neighbor spoofing.”

In November 2017, the FCC issued the 2017 Call Blocking Order, which will give phone service providers the ability to authenticate legitimate calls and identify illegally spoofed calls and block them. The added authority sought by the Attorneys General Tuesday will allow service providers to use new technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019.

To date, the FCC has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning additional provider-initiated call blocking.

The Attorneys General anticipate that further requests for comments will take place on this subject.

In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014.