South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined a bipartisan group to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls, the office announced Thursday.
The group of 40 state attorneys general is reviewing the technology major telecom companies are using to combat illegal robocalls.
The calls have become a nuisance. In this state, more than 99 million robocalls were placed last month, according to data from the robocall-blocking firm YouMail. While some may be a candidate campaigning for office or other charitable donations, many of the automated messages come from telemarketing companies with fraudulent numbers.
The attorney general and his office recognized that something must be done to protect South Carolinans from the onslaught of calls.
“Robocalls are one of the biggest complaints we get because they annoy all of us,” Wilson said in a statement.
The problem for government officials boils down legally being able to fight the messages. The calls, which often use spoof numbers, can come from other states or countries.
Currently, there's no federal legislation that makes spoofing another person's phone number illegal. The multi-state group hopes to make recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission on how to combat the calls. A spokesman with the attorney general's office said there isn't a timeline for when that will be done.
"It’s difficult for states alone to fight these, especially when the calls come from other states or other countries, but we’re committed to working together to find ways to reduce them and make recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission," Wilson said in the statement.
Earlier this year, South Carolina joined a small list of other states when its Telephone Privacy Protection Act was signed into law. This makes it illegal for a call solicitor to use a South Carolina area code unless they have a physical address in the state.
The law won't stop all robocalls, and some say the law is likely to be challenged because it could raise the question about whether a state can regulate a call outside its borders.
Meanwhile, telecom groups like Verizon Wireless and AT&T have made several steps to help frustrated customers.
Verizon deployed its Caller Name ID app over a year ago. It enables customers to automatically forward spam calls that correspond to their selected level of risk - straight to voicemail.
Verizon also plans to initiate the STIR/SHAKEN authentication standard in its networks. It would verify to end users that the number on the caller ID is the number that originated the call.
"Verizon fully understands that annoying and intrusive robocalls are a persistent problem that impacts millions of Americans. And our company has been working aggressively to try and stop them," said Verizon spokeswoman Kate Jay in a statement. "This is something that our customers demand and deserve, and Verizon is committed to stopping the bad actors from continually disturbing our customers."
AT&T offers mobile security and call protection services that automatically blocks fraud calls.
Landline customers can block unwanted calls from up to 100 numbers by pressing *61 after their most recent unwanted incoming call. They can also set up a blocked numbers list on their personal AT&T account.
Residents can report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission. Those who want to limit calls from legitimate telemarketers can asked to be added the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call List.