January 14, 2022

Media contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

BISMARCK, ND – This week, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt measures to help stem the tide of foreign-based illegal robocalls that attempt to scam Americans.

“Illegal robocalls are more than just a nuisance. Every day, my office receives reports from victims of these scam calls. Unfortunately, when consumers unwittingly respond to these calls, they may lose thousands of dollars, often with financially devastating results. I will continue my efforts to protect North Dakotans,” said Stenehjem, who reminded consumers not to accept or return any of these calls under any circumstances. 

The comment letter, which was signed by the attorneys general from all 50 states, calls for the FCC to require “gateway providers” – companies that allow foreign calls into the United States – to take steps to reduce how easily robocalls have been able to enter the US telephone network, including requiring those providers to implement caller ID technology that helps prevent spoofed calls.

The letter states that based upon consumer complaints, these fraudulent foreign-originated robocalls often involve caller ID spoofing US phone numbers. The attorneys general called on the FCC to take decisive action, stating “[T]he time has come to start cutting the strings that form the nets that these illegal robocallers cast over the public.”

The attorneys general asked the FCC to require these gateway providers to take additional steps to reduce robocalls, including to:

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

The attorneys general encouraged the FCC to require all phone companies to block calls from any gateway provider that 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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