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Queens Chronicle

AG James takes aim at illegal robocalls

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:32 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2019.

State Attorney General Letitia James, along with 50 additional attorneys general and 12 phone companies, announced last Thursday a plan to fight robocalls.

“The bad actors running these deceptive operations will soon have one call left to make: to their own lawyers,” James said. “New Yorkers don’t want to be woken up by illegal robocalls, don’t want their dinner interrupted by scamming robocalls, and don’t even want one minute of their day disrupted by robocalls that only aim to swindle innocent victims, so we’re taking action to bring the number of unsolicited calls way down.”

She added, “the days of preying upon, misleading and taking advantage of individuals throughout our state and this country will soon be numbered.”

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by implementing call-blocking technology at the network level, at no cost to customers; making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools; implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source; and monitoring their networks for robocall traffic, according to James.

The companies will assist enforcement efforts by knowing who their customers are so scammers can be identified and investigated; investigating and taking action against suspicious callers; working with law enforcement to trace the origins of illegal robocalls; and requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

In 2018, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) saw her legislation to crack down on criminals who engage in spoofing — a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re calling from a financial institution, police department or government agency — signed into law. The scammers would claim they’re from one of the entities and convince victims to wire cash or provide personal and financial information.

Meng’s bill made spoofing attempts abroad a criminal act. Before, spoofing to defraud Americans was not illegal if the calls originated outside the country. The law cover texts and internet-based Voice Over Internet Protocol.

— David Russell

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