45 Attorneys General Agree: Phone Companies Should Give Consumers Ability To Block Robocalls

While the FCC tries to allow consumers to take a more active role in which calls they do or don’t receive, a group of 45 state attorneys general (well, 44 states and the AG for the District of Columbia) are calling on the phone companies to just stop dilly dallying and start offering call-blocking services already.

In a letter [PDF] to the CEOs of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and CenturyLink, the 45 AGs say that while they are busy prosecuting telemarketers that make obnoxious prerecorded calls, “The better solution is to stop intrusive calls before they ever reach the consumer.”

The telecom industry had previously cited potential legal and regulatory roadblocks to instituting call-blocking technologies, but in June, the FCC clarified for phone companies that federal rules do not prohibit service providers from offering optional services that block unwanted calls.

With that cleared up, the attorneys general ask these telecom titans to “take full advantage of the opportunity provided by the rule clarification” and “offer call-blocking technology to your consumers.”

“This clarification by the FCC should remove any doubt about your legal authority to empower consumers by providing call-blocking technology to help stop robocalls, scam text messages and unwanted telemarketing calls,” reads the letter, signed by the attorney general for every state except Arizona, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.

“Every year, our offices are flooded with consumer complaints pleading for a solution to stop intrusive robocalls,” concludes the letter. “Your organizations are now poised to offer your customers the help they need. We urge you to act without delay.”

Our colleagues at Consumers Union, the folks behind the successful End Robocalls campaign, applaud this move by the attorneys general.

“Robocalls ring day and night and too often target vulnerable consumers with costly rip-offs,” said Tim Marvin, manager of the End Robocalls campaign. “State law enforcement officials, federal regulators, and the public all agree — the phone companies need to do more to stop robocalls before they invade our homes. Phone carriers are in the best position to provide their customers with relief and it’s time for them to act.”

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