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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

AG HEALEY JOINS NATIONAL BIPARTISAN TASK FORCE AIMED AT COMBATING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS

 AG HEALEY JOINS NATIONAL BIPARTISAN TASK FORCE AIMED AT COMBATING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS

 

            BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today announced that her office is joining a nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force of 50 attorneys general to investigate and take legal action against telecommunications companies responsible for bringing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States. The Task Force will be focused on cutting down on illegal robocalls.

 

The Task Force has issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers – companies that allow foreign calls into the United States telephone network – and other entities that are allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers have a responsibility to ensure the traffic is legal, but according to the Task Force these providers are not taking sufficient action to stop illegal robocall traffic. The Task Force will also focus on bad actors throughout the telecommunications industry to help reduce the number of robocalls that residents receive.

 

“Not only are robocalls incredibly invasive and unwanted, but they put vulnerable consumers at risk of falling prey to scams that steal their personal information and money.” said AG Healey. “I’m joining my colleagues in combating this nationwide problem and protecting consumers in our state.”

 

According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, more than 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day. An estimated $29.8 billion dollars was stolen through scam calls in 2021. These scam calls include imposter scams, in which scammers pose as trusted organizations or individuals in order to gain the trust of the victim and eventually take their money, along with Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers, and many others that especially affect vulnerable residents. Most of this scam robocall traffic originates overseas. The Task Force is focused on shutting down the providers that profit from this illegal scam traffic and refuse to take steps to otherwise mitigate these calls.

 

AG Healey offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:

  • Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency.
  • Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Organizations such as the Social Security Administration will not make phone calls to individuals.
  • If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang-up and do not provide any personal information.
  • Report illegal robocalls and similar scammers to DoNotCall.gov.
  • Report robotexts and text message scams to ReportFraud.ftc.gov or forward the text message to 7726 (“SPAM”).

 

AG Healey is committed to curbing and stopping illegal and unwanted robocalls. In 2018, AG Healey joined a multistate effort, alongside 34 attorneys general to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and telephone service providers to implement new technologies and policies that would block more illegal robocalls. In March 2021, the AG’s Office, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and 38 other states, stopped a telefunding operation that affected 67 million consumers with 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls, mostly illegal robocalls. In December 2021, the AG’s Office and a coalition of 51 attorneys general successfully helped to persuade the FCC to shorten the deadline by a year for smaller telephone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology that helps prevent spoofed calls. Earlier this year, AG Healey also joined a multistate coalition to send a letter to the FCC, urging them to require gateway providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN, to help prevent robocalls from entering the U.S. telephone networks.

 

The AG’s Office also frequently holds trainings and webinars for residents, particularly seniors, on how to protect themselves against robocalls and similar scams, through its Community Engagement Division.

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