Attorney General Knudsen Takes Action to Combat Illegal Robocalls in Montana

Attorney General Knudsen Takes Action to Combat Illegal Robocalls in Montana

Urges the FCC to Accelerate Deadline for Anti-Robocall Technology

HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen today called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to combat the scourge of illegal phone calls pouring into our state and help prevent Montanans from becoming victims of scams. In a comment filed with the FCC, Knudsen and 50 other attorneys general urged the FCC to move up the deadline for all telephone companies to implement anti-robocall ID technology.

A subset of small voice service providers is more often responsible for illegal robocalls, with a high and increasing share of these illegal robocalls relative to their subscriber bases.

“In addition to the daily annoyance and inconvenience, Montanans are also at risk of devastating loss because of deceptive scams coming from illegal robocalls. The Montana Department of Justice is committed to cracking down on anyone trying to take advantage of Montanans,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “We need the Federal Communications Commission to move up the deadline and make telephone companies implement anti-robocall technology as soon as possible.”

Under the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act), which became law in 2019, phone companies are required to implement STIR/SHAKEN technology on their networks. This caller ID authentication technology helps ensure that telephone calls are originating from verified numbers, not spoofed sources. Large companies were required to implement the technology by June 2021, and smaller phone companies were given an extension until June 2023.

However, some of the same smaller phone companies that are benefitting from this extension are also responsible for originating or facilitating high volumes of illegal robocalls that spam Americans and lead to financial or personal data loss. And without the STIR/SHAKEN technology in place, these smaller companies are failing to take a necessary step to minimize the continued onslaught of illegally spoofed robocalls that harm residents.

The coalition of attorneys general are asking the FCC to require these companies to implement the STIR/SHAKEN technology as soon as possible and no later than June 30, 2022.

“The State Attorneys General pledge to continue their work on the front lines of this fight, alongside our partners in the federal government and telecommunications industry, but we need the Commission’s help. For those small voice service providers shown to be carrying high volumes of illegal robocalls on their networks, the Commission must require those providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN without further delay,” Knudsen’s comments to the FCC stated. “While not a silver bullet to end illegal robocalls, complete end-to-end implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework will dramatically reduce the uncertainty and distrust that consumers experience each time they read their caller ID for an incoming call.”

A copy of the comments is available HERE.

Attorney General Knudsen and the Montana Department of Justice, under his direction, are committed to protecting consumers from scams and other harmful business practices. Earlier this year, the department also joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in stopping a massive telefunding operation that bombarded 67 million consumers with 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls, which were mostly illegal robocalls.

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