Attorney General works to combat unwanted robocalls


    OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) - Attorney General Mike Hunter, along with 53 other attorneys general, are pushing for legislation that would urge action on federal legislation to address illegal scam calls.

    The bipartisan legislation is called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

    According to deputy attorney general Dara Derryberry, the TRACED Act would require service providers to adopt technology that verifies that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers' phones and allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fine telemarketers up to $10,000 per prohibited call.

    "So, every company that Oklahoman's use for their phones would be required to make sure that calls coming to their customers are legitimate calls," Derryberry said.

    The technology that would be used is called Stir/Shaken.

    "The legislation creates a framework for federal law enforcement that is working against scam calls to work alongside with state attorneys general. This is common sense from the standpoint that state attorneys generals are on the forefront of fighting these issues and by working with each state in the way that the legislation calls for, it allows an approach that suits the individual state," Derryberry said.

    Derryberry said Stir/Shaken will verify the source of the call.

    "From that standpoint, if the call is being originated from a scammer and not from the actual source the number is being attributed to, it will identify that," Derryberry said.

    Once the source is verified, Derryberry said they should be able to track down the telemarketer, who could receive a fine up to $10,000.

    "That's where the partnership between federal and state law enforcement comes into play. When a scam phone call occurs, we team together to investigate the matter and the technology used to verify calls could also be helpful in that process," Derryberry said.

    Attorneys generals sent a letter to the heads of the U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in support of the bipartisan Senate bill on March 5.

    "We believe that this legislation effectively addresses many of the concerns raised by federal regulators, voice service providers, private businesses, consumer advocacy groups, and other interested parties to combat illegal robocalls and spoofing, and we are heartened that it enables the telecom industry, federal regulators, and our offices to take meaningful steps to abate the rapid proliferation of these illegal and unwanted robocalls," the letter said.

    In the letter, attorneys generals stated that last year, the estimated number of illegal robocalls consumers received was estimated around 48 billion.

    "People are having their identities stolen on a daily basis and really wreaking economic havoc on well-intended hardworking folks," Derryberry said.

    Derryberry said the Consumer Protection Unit in the attorney generals office received 4,000 calls reporting scam/telemarketer scams to them last year.

    "We expect that number to continue to rise unless this legislation passes, which is why Attorney General Hunter is so strongly in favor of this. It really is having an economic impact on a daily basis that this telemarketing fraud is existing," Derryberry said.

    Legislation for the TRACED Act has made its way through the Senate Committee. It will be on the Senate floor next for approval.

    According to the FCC, if you are receiving robocalls, there are a number of tips you can follow so you're not scammed.

    Some tips include, not answering calls from unknown numbers and if the caller claims to be from a legitimate company or organization, hang up and call them back using a valid number found on their website.

    For more tips, click here.

    Consumers can also block telemarketing calls by registering their number on a "Do Not Call" list.

    To register your phone, click here.

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