Attorney General William Tong announced on Tuesday the formation of a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force of 50 states to investigate and take legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for bringing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States. This bipartisan nationwide Task Force has one goal: to cut down on illegal robocalls.
Connecticut is among 16 states on the Executive Committee leading this task force.
In its first act today, the Task Force issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities that are allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers that bring foreign traffic into the U.S. telephone network have a responsibility to ensure the traffic is legal, but these providers are not taking sufficient action to stop robocall traffic. In many cases, they appear to be intentionally turning a blind eye in return for steady revenue. The Task Force will focus on the bad actors throughout the telecommunications industry, to help reduce the number robocalls that Connecticut residents receive and benefit the companies that are following the rules.
“Robocalls are an intrusive and obnoxious menace, responsible for $29.8 billion in fraud last year alone,” said Attorney General Tong in a release on Tuesday.
“Our Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force will shut down the telecom fraud highway and bringing these scammers to justice. In our first action today, we have issued 20 civil investigative demands demanding comprehensive records from gateway providers we believe may be responsible for the vast majority of unlawful foreign robocall traffic into the United States. If these telecom bad actors cannot police themselves, our Task Force will.”
According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, over 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day. These scam calls include Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers, and many other scams targeting all consumers, including some of our most vulnerable citizens. An estimated $29.8 billion dollars was stolen through scam calls in 2021. Most of this scam robocall traffic originates overseas. The Task Force is focused on shutting down the providers that profit from this illegal scam traffic and refuse to take steps to otherwise mitigate these scam calls.
Attorney General Tong offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:
• Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.
• Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
•If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang-up and do not provide any personal information.
• Help bolster investigations in Connecticut by reporting your robocalls to https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/
• File a Do Not Call or Text complaint here: National Do Not Call Registry
Tips for avoiding spam texts:
• Consumers can report fraudulent texts to their wireless providers by forwarding it to 7726 (“SPAM”).
• Don’t respond to texts that look suspicious, or come from an unknown number
• Don’t click links in suspicious texts
• Don’t provide any sensitive personal or financial information
• If a business sends you a text, call them to verify the communication using a valid number.
Be aware that scammers may make their fraudulent numbers appear in a Google search, and be ready to accept your call. Try to use something other than a search engine to confirm the telephone number.