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Tired of annoying robocalls? How Utah, states are pushing feds to do more to stop them

A mobile phone is pictured during a Unified Police Department press conference in March 2016, warning about phone scams.
A mobile phone is pictured during a Unified Police Department press conference in March 2016, warning about phone scams. The Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for certain smaller companies to implement certain caller ID requirements.
Steve Breinholt, Deseret News

Tired of those irritating robocalls?

Few things can be more annoying than answering the phone while you’re in the middle of something — and then being greeted by a recorded voice.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection are continuing to push the Federal Communications Commission to do more about it.

Utah joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 states and territories urging the FCC to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller companies to implement caller ID requirements.

“Fighting these pesky robocalls has been and will continue to be an ongoing priority for us. Robocalls are among the top complaints our offices hear. We want to use the most advanced techniques and technology to continuously make progress. But we understand this is an ongoing fight — and we won’t stop until the calls stop,” said Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak and Utah Division of Consumer Protection Director Daniel O’Bannon.

Not only are robocalls bothersome, but they often have ill intent.

“Many Americans are still struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including our most vulnerable populations. Their struggles are compounded by the twin scourges of illegal robocalls and caller ID spoofing, both of which are used to perpetrate scams, including scams related to the coronavirus pandemic,” the attorneys general wrote.

Under the TRACED Act, which became law in 2019, voice service providers are required to implement a technology called STIR/SHAKEN on their networks. This caller ID authentication technology helps ensure that telephone calls are originating from verified numbers, not spoofed sources.

Large companies were required to implement the system by June 2021, and smaller companies were given an extension until June 2023.

Some smaller companies, however, that are benefitting from the extension are also responsible for originating or facilitating high volumes of illegal robocalls that spam Americans and lead to financial or personal data loss, according to the attorneys general.

For that reason, states are asking the FCC to require those companies to start using the caller ID authentication technology as soon as possible and no later than June 30, 2022.

To date this year, 208 million robocalls have been placed to Utah, roughly 94 calls per person, according to YouMail, a privately funded California-based organization that looks to protect consumers from harmful phone calls.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year reaffirmed the government’s authority to ban robocalls after 33 states sued the American Association of Political Consultants.

If you receive a robocall trying to sell you something, and you haven’t given the caller written permission, it’s an illegal call, according to the Federal Trade Commission. You should hang up, and then file a complaint with the FTC and the National Do Not Call Registry.