LOCAL NEWS

Utah Attorney General Announces Bipartisan Fight Against Robocalls

Dec 11, 2018, 5:51 PM | Updated: 9:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah state attorney general has joined a bipartisan group of nearly 40 other state attorneys general working to pull the plug on illegal robocalls.

Attorney General Sean Reyes made the announcement Tuesday, saying he wants the quickest possible solution to those infuriating and often harmful robocalls.

“When you talk about 40 attorneys general, you know it’s something that is really serious,” explained Reyes. “Because, we’re hearing it from our constituents. We’re hearing it even from our own family members and our own employees. This is beyond just an annoyance.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

In November alone, robocallers made 5.1 billion calls to Americans, according to the YouMail Robocall Index. Utahns received 30 million of those calls. YouMail, which develops robocall blocking software, estimates 40 percent of all robocalls were scams.

“Most alarming for law enforcement and regulators like us is the fraud factor, because so many of the robocalls end up being part and parcel of fraudulent schemes,” Reyes said.

Reyes and his 39 counterparts from across the country have pushed for an expedited solution to robocalls, using technology.

“Using the current techniques that we have legally, it’s very difficult to try to trace and track and then go after folks who might be international criminals doing these (robocalls) remotely,” Reyes said. “We’re trying to continue to the fight on the legal side but also utilize new technology to help empower us to be even stronger and more aggressive.”

In November, KSL reported on new technology called STIR / SHAKEN being developed by the telecom industry to fight robocalls.

The technology works by attaching a digital token to an incoming call, confirming it’s from a real phone number. If your network cannot verify that token, you don’t get the call.

“There are still some hurdles to overcome technologically and legally, but we’re getting close,” said Reyes. “It will take careful balance. When technology is involved, it evolves so quickly and so rapidly, that you have to make sure regulations are nimble enough to anticipate the changes in technology.”

Reyes acknowledges the bad guys often find a way to counter new technology designed to block them.

“There’s this cat-and-mouse game, so we’re urging the FCC and our private sector partners to be immediate in taking action but also be open to the fact that we’re going to have to be proactive in one sense but also reactive to the counter technologies that will inevitably come,” Reyes said.

Both the attorneys general and the FCC have been pushing the telecom industry to roll out the new STIR / SHAKEN technology in the next year.

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