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July 22, 2015

Miller, State Attorneys General Call on Phone Carriers to Offer Call Blocking Technology to Fight Robocalls

The FCC has cleared the use of technology to stop robocalls that “flood our offices with complaints”

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller today called on five major phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to customers who want to block intrusive robocalls.

In a letter that Miller and 44 other state attorneys general sent to the chief executives of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink, the attorneys general said a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule clarification allows telecommunication service providers to offer customers the ability to block unwanted calls. The FCC action also verifies that federal law does not prohibit the services.

“We want to make it crystal clear to phone carriers that they can and should offer what their customers have long demanded – a way to stop intrusive robocalls before they ever come through,” Miller said. “The FCC has given phone companies a bright green light to help consumers stop unwanted, annoying, and sometimes expensive robocalls,” Miller said.

In their letter to the carriers, the attorneys general stated, “Every year, consumers flood our offices with complaints and plead for solutions to stop robocalls. Your companies are now poised to offer your customers the help they need. We urge you to act without delay.”

Phone carriers have previously claimed that FCC rules addressing call blocking technology were either ambiguous or even prohibited it. At a July 2013 hearing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, representatives from the U.S. Telecom Association and CTIA-The Wireless Association testified that “legal barriers prevent carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.”

Call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service (NoMoRobo.com) and Android wireless phones (the “Call Control” app). Miller and the bipartisan group of attorneys general urged phone carriers to move quickly to implement and inform their consumers of these same types of options.

Last September, Miller and 38 attorneys general called on the FCC to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies. In late May the FCC chairman endorsed the request, and last month a majority of FCC commissioners voted to approve the rule clarification.

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