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Phone companies, AGs tackling illegal robocalls together

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Attorneys general across the country are teaming up with phone companies to try to put a stop to annoying and often illegal robocalls.

“It’s a source of scams, particularly amongst our elders, so it’s really important that we work with phone companies to limit these calls,” R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha told Eyewitness News.

Neronha’s office said 11 phone companies including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have agreed to several measures to fight robocalls, including implementing call-blocking technology at no cost to customers, authenticating calls to make sure they’re coming from valid sources, and working with law enforcement to trace illegal robocalls.

“My hope is the number of calls will fall off and as we get more information from the phone companies as to who the bad actors are,” Neronha said. “We’ll be able to take proactive steps against them.”

It may be an uphill battle.

In June, Americans received an estimated 4.3 billion robocalls and according to call-blocking company YouMail, almost half of them were scam calls.

And even with cooperation from phone companies, reaching the source of robocalls can be challenging.

“One of the problems with a lot of these robocalls, as you know, is they’re offshore, and so our ability to reach them sometimes can be limited,” Neronha explained. “This is kind of a state, local, federal thing and together we hope to make an impact.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is also touting the new partnership.

“We’re pleased our multistate group brought telephone companies to the table to implement a new set of principles and technologies that will block many of these robocalls from reaching consumers,” Healey said in a statement.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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