State Attorneys Urge FCC to Combat Neighborhood Spoofing

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
• Attorneys general want rules letting service providers block more robocalls
• Government and industry must work together, they say

Attorneys general from 35 states are urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow telephone companies to block illegally manipulated calls that appear to come from consumers’ neighborhoods.

The rule change could help reduce “spoofed” calls from numbers with the same area code as the consumer, or even calls from the consumer’s own number. Combating junk marketing calls has been a top consumer protection priority for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The FCC last November adopted a set of robocall rules that allowed telephone companies to proactively block calls from invalid, unassigned or unused numbers. The agency then sought public comments on empowering telephone companies further.

The attorneys general want to the FCC to create new rules specifically targeting neighborhood spoofing, they said in comments filed Oct. 9 with the agency.

“Unwanted robocalls aren’t just a nuisance—they’re a means for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting New Yorkers,” New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood said in an statement. “New Yorkers have been bombarded with these illegal robocall scams— including the all-too-common spoofed calls that appear to come from a neighbor—and it’s time for federal action.”

The attorneys also said government and industry must work together to combat the problem, given the ability of robo-callers to hide their identities and make law enforcement difficult.

“No single tool or method will solve this serious consumer problem,” the attorneys said. “Only by working together, and utilizing every tool at our disposal, can we hope to eradicate this noxious intrusion on consumers’ lives.”

An FCC spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg Law request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com