Coalition of 52 Attorneys General Send Letter Demanding Expanded Illegal Robocall Response
Illegal robocalls are a favorite marketing tactic for extended auto warranty and home warranty sales
Posted by Craig Randall
June 1, 2020
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter calling on USTelecom, the leading organization representing telecommunications providers, and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with state attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers.
The bipartisan coalition of 52 state and territory attorneys general is urging the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited to law enforcement needs.
Illegal robocalls are a favorite marketing avenue for sellers of extended car warranties and home warranties due to the low cost of reaching consumers. Many scam extended warranty sellers have been sued for robodialing dating back to the mid 2000s, and the TCPA lawsuits continue through to today.
According to the YouMail Robocall Index, 136 million extended warranty scam robocalls were made in April 2020 alone.
We believe implementation of these priorities, in conjunction with steps taken by the state attorneys general and our federal counterparts, will further our collective goal of combating unwanted and illegal robocalls.
The letter asks USTelecom to advance the ITG's abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends, and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations; and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.
"Given the exponential growth of illegal robocalls targeting the American public," the letter says, "the state attorneys general plan to continue intensifying our enforcement efforts against illegal robocallers and other related bad actors. As a result, we expect a growing need for data analyses and pattern recognition to better understand changing trends and the overall problem both in individual states and nationwide. Additionally, we contemplate increases in our issuances of subpoenas or civil investigative demands directly to the ITG for tracebacks."
A key part of that action would be for USTelecom to develop and roll out an online platform to collect live data from carriers and robocall-blocking apps. When USTelecom or a law enforcement agency detects an illegal robocall campaign, the law enforcement agency would then be able to submit a subpoena to USTelecom in a streamlined online portal.
The process would allow for rapid review by USTelecom and provide law enforcement agencies the ability to expedite subpoena procedures and access the platform to quickly retrieve relevant data. The platform would bolster law enforcement investigations and could potentially lead to attorney general offices issuing temporary restraining orders that could stop a live robocall campaign in its tracks.
The coalition's letter follows a January 2020 meeting in Washington, D.C., with representatives from state attorney general offices, federal agencies, and the telecom industry. Some priorities developed at that meeting include:
• Automating and increasing the total volume of traceback investigations;
• Alerting relevant law enforcement agencies of suspected illegal robocall campaigns;
• Enabling law enforcement agencies to electronically upload and receive responses to subpoenas and civil investigative demands, and providing swift response to those requests; and
• Identifying noncooperative Voice Service Providers, including those that don't participate in the traceback process, repeatedly originate or accept illegal robocalls, or repeatedly fail to provide sufficient records.
The coalition believes these measures would strengthen the partnership between the USTelecom-backed ITG and attorneys general, a relationship that led to the creation of the Anti-Robocall Principles. Those principles were established in August 2019 when 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers took aim at reducing the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people.
More recently-and due in part to the support from the telecommunications industry and state attorneys general-the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was signed into law by the federal government. This law enables the industry to develop call-authentication protocols to combat caller-ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures.
A copy of the letter signed by the 52 Attorneys General can be found here.
Read more at National Association of Attorneys General