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September 9, 2014

Miller, State Attorneys General Urge FCC to Allow Phone Companies to Use Call-Blocking Technologies

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies to better protect consumers from unwanted calls and scams.

Call-blocking technologies, such as NoMoRobo, Call Control, and Telemarketing Guard, enable phone carriers to identify and block unwelcome sales calls at their customers’ request. However, some phone carriers have not implemented this technology, in part because of the belief that federal law prevents carriers from blocking calls on their consumers’ behalf.

“These types of calls are a perennial source of complaints from Iowans, and we think that the FCC should formally give the green light to phone companies to use reasonable tools like these that are now available to address this ongoing problem,” Miller said.

In a letter signed by attorneys general in 36 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, Miller filed official comments with the FCC. The letter urges the commission to recognize call-blocking filters as legally appropriate, if requested by customers.

Phone carriers have expressed concern that the FCC’s legal framework prohibits phone companies from determining which calls should be allowed to go through to a customer and which should be blocked.

Last year, in explaining the obstacles that phone carriers face in implementing call-blocking technologies, US Telecom wrote to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance that “the FCC has concluded that call blocking is an unjust and unreasonable practice under section 201(b) of the Communications Act of 1934.”

In his letter to the FCC, Miller asks the FCC for a formal opinion on whether an exception can be made to allow companies to block illegal telemarketing calls at the request of a consumer.

Miller reminds Iowans to register with the Do Not Call Registry at www.DoNotCall.gov, which allows consumers to choose not to receive telemarketing calls at home. Consumers who are registered on the Do Not Call Registry and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint through the registry’s website.

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