International scam calls: Wisconsin AG joins push to stop them

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put in place measures that will help stem the tide of foreign-based illegal robocalls that attempt to scam Americans, his office indicated Wednesday.

"We must improve the protections in place against illegal robocalls, and these FCC proposals are a step in the right direction," Kaul said in a news release. "A bipartisan coalition of (attorneys general) from across the country is calling for these proposals to be adopted."

Kaul and a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general are calling for the FCC to require gateway providers – the companies that allow foreign calls into the U.S. – to take steps to reduce how easily robocalls have been able to enter the U.S. telephone network.

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Gateway providers should be required to implement this technology within 30 days of it becoming a rule, the news release said, to help eliminate spoofed calls and to make sure that international calls that originate from U.S. telephone numbers are legitimate. In December, Kaul and a coalition of 51 attorneys general successfully helped to persuade the FCC to shorten by a year the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology that helps prevent spoofed calls.

The attorneys general are asking the FCC to require these gateway providers to take additional measures to reduce robocalls, including:

  • Responding to requests from law enforcement, state attorneys general, or the FCC to trace back calls within 24 hours.
  • Blocking calls when providers are aware of an illegal or likely fraudulent caller.
  • Blocking calls that originate from numbers that are on a "do not originate" list – such as government phone numbers that are for incoming calls only.
  • Ensuring that foreign telephone companies they partner with are ensuring that calls are being made from legitimate numbers.

The attorneys general are also encouraging the FCC to require all phone companies to block calls from a gateway provider if it fails to meet these requirements. Illegal robocalls are a scourge – in 2020, Americans lost more than $520 million through robocall scams.

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