AG Schmidt: Put teeth behind voluntary robocall deal

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Monday joined his colleagues from across the country in calling for regulatory action to help curb robocalls on top of the voluntary actions started by some of the big cell phone carriers.

“We’ve asked Congress to act and they haven’t yet acted,” said Schmidt. “They are considering legislation. We have worked with the industry in order to get voluntary agreement from the largest telecom carriers on several steps that, if implemented, can reduce the number of unwanted calls. Now, we’re asking the regulatory agency, the Federal Communications Commission, to adopt a regulation under the authority of current law, that would require the industry to do some of the things that they’ve already agreed to do voluntarily, to lock those in.”

The solution to the problem of robocalls has to come from well above the local level.

“The types of things we’re talking about are having the industry implement free and more effective network level call blocking to keep robocalls out,” said Schmidt. “Network level, not the device in your hand, but at the broad, network level. Number two, to make more free options that are effective available for the device in your hand, including call blocking that is effective at the consumer’s choice.”

It’s difficult for authorities to chase down scammers now, because they’re often not even in the United States.

“The callers know that if they’re operating out of Uzbekistan, it’s much harder for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to find them,” said Schmidt. “Even if we do find them, we don’t have a lot of jurisdiction in Uzbekistan. That’s another reason that it’s so critical that we have in place better systems that prevent the phone from ringing in the first place.”

The nearly 48 billion robocalls made in 2018 made them the number one source of consumer complaints to the FTC and the FCC and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in consumer losses.