Attorney General Fox Urges FCC to Allow Use of Call-Blocking Technologies by Phone Companies
Attorney General Fox announced today he has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies that would better protect consumers from unwanted calls and scams.
Call-blocking technologies, such as NoMoRobo, Call Control, and Telemarketing Guard, have been developed to 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.
In a letter signed by 38 other state and territorial attorneys general, Attorney General Fox filed official comments yesterday with the FCC. The letter urges the commission to recognize call-blocking filters as legally appropriate, if requested by customers.
Attorney General Fox said, “Most recorded telemarketing messages are illegal in Montana. Let’s clear up any misinterpretations phone companies may have about using available technologies to stop unwanted calls to our consumers. This letter is a step in the right direction to get the FCC to clarify the use of these technologies to better protect consumers from calls that scam or harass them.”
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, Attorney General Fox asks 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.
Last year, the Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice received more than 1,670 calls about unwanted calls; 82 of those consumers filed actual complaints.
Attorney General Fox reminded Montanans to sign up for Montana’s Do Not Call list, which helps to deter unwanted and fraudulent calls by visiting https://dojmt.gov/consumer/telemarketing or calling 1-888-382-1222. Consumers who are registered on the Do Not Call list and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint by visiting https://dojmt.gov/consumer.
States and territories that signed the letter to the FCC are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
A copy of the letter can be found here.