CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and 44 other state Attorneys General are calling on five major telephone companies to offer technology to block scam phone calls.
In a joint letter to the chief executives of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink, the Attorneys General said a new Federal Communications Commission rule clarification allows telecommunication service providers to offer customers the ability to block scam calls, and verifies that federal law does not prohibit offering the services.
Morrisey said phone carriers had previously claimed they could not offer such services. At a July 2013 hearing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, representatives from the U.S. Telecom Association and CTIA testified that “legal barriers prevent carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.”
“The FCC has made it clear that phone companies can assist us in our fight against scammers' calls,” Morrisey said in a statement. “We will continue to press these phone carriers to give their customers what they have been asking for – a way to stop these calls before they ever come through.”
Morrisey said call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service (NoMoRobo) and Android cell phones (Call Control), and the phone carriers should move quickly to implement and inform their consumers of these options.
“Nearly every week our Consumer Protection Division receives reports of some new telephone scam that is making its way through West Virginia, and consumers of our state seem to be barraged with calls from scammers,” Morrisey said. “While we do everything we can to educate consumers and fight back against these scammers, phone carriers should also do what they can to block these calls from the start.”
Last September, Morrisey joined a coalition of 39 Attorneys General, led by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, to call on the FCC to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies to protect consumers. The FCC chairman endorsed the request in late May and the FCC voted to pass the rule clarification on June 18.
The Attorneys General that signed today’s letter include those from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.