Attorney General James Fights Illegal Robocalls That Target New Yorkers

Coalition of AGs from All 50 States and DC Join with Phone Companies
to Adopt Principles Making it Easier to Prosecute Bad Actors

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James, along with 50 additional Attorneys General and 12 phone companies, today announced a bipartisan, public/private partnership aimed at fighting illegal robocalls across the country. The 12 companies have agreed to adopt eight principles that will help protect phone users and make it easier for Attorneys General nationwide to investigate and prosecute bad actors.

“The bad actors running these deceptive operations will soon have one call left to make: to their lawyers,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “New Yorkers don’t want to be woken up by illegal robocalls, don’t want their dinner interrupted by scamming robocalls, and don’t even want one minute of their day disrupted by robocalls that only aim to swindle innocent victims, so we’re taking action to bring the number of unsolicited calls way down. Thanks to the phone companies’ prevention efforts and the bipartisan Attorneys’ General enforcement efforts, the days of preying upon, misleading, and taking advantage of individuals throughout our state and this country will soon be numbered.”

An independent study compiled with data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that, in 2018, New York State residents made the fourth highest number of robocall complaints nationwide. 

The principles address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

  • Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level, at no cost to customers;
  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools;
  • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source; and
  • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

Phone companies will additionally assist Attorneys’ General anti-robocall enforcement efforts by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated;
  • Investigating and taking action — including notifying law enforcement and State Attorneys General — against suspicious callers;
  • Working with law enforcement — including State Attorneys General — to trace the origins of illegal robocalls; and
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract with to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of Attorneys General to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.

“The principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Henning Schulzrinne, Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. “I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”

Joining Attorney General James in announcing today’s principles are the Attorneys General of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.