NH asks feds to take action against foreign robocalls

Monitor staff
Published: 1/14/2022 10:24:58 AM
Modified: 1/14/2022 10:24:05 AM

New Hampshire has joined the chorus of states asking the federal government to make it harder for foreign-based robocalls to flood American phone numbers, following years of inaction on a practice that is not only annoying but can lead to expensive scams.

State Attorney General John Formella on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission and gateway providers – the companies that allow foreign calls into the United States – to take steps to reduce how easily robocalls have been able to enter the U.S. telephone network, including implementing STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology.

That technology should help prevent “spoofed” calls, which appear to come from a different phone number. Spoofing helps scammers gain trust from their victims, who assume the phone call is coming from a trusted source.

“Combating robocalls requires a three-pronged approach: technology, education, and enforcement,” said Formella in a statement.

About 37% of robocalls in the United States in 2021 were scams, according to YouMail, a developer of robocall blocking software. in 2020, Americans lost more than $520 million through robocall scams.

A bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general, including those in all New England states, have signed onto this request.

In December, Formella and a coalition of 51 attorneys general successfully helped to persuade the FCC to shorten by a year the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN.

The attorneys general are asking the FCC to require gateway providers to take additional measures to reduce robocalls, including:

■Responding to trace back calls within 24 hours from requests of law enforcement, state attorneys general, or the FCC.

■Blocking calls when providers are aware of an illegal or likely fraudulent caller.

■Blocking calls that originate from numbers that are on a “do not originate” list, such as government phone numbers that are for incoming calls only.

■Ensuring that foreign telephone companies they partner with are ensuring that calls are being made from legitimate numbers.

The attorneys general are also encouraging the FCC to require all phone companies to block calls from a gateway provider if it fails to meet these requirements.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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