'Neighbor-spoofing' the latest wrinkle in havoc wreaking robocalls

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Some 40 attorneys general are pressing the FCC to pursue technology and regs that would clamp down on robocalls. (ARS Technica image)

CONCORD - The state's top law enforcement officer announced on Thursday that a group of 40 state attorneys general have joined an effort to stop or reduce bothersome and harmful robocalls.

The coalition was first formed following calls from New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein to pursue such an initiative more than a year ago.

This coalition continues to work with major telecom companies in order to identify technology that will assist in combatting illegal robocalls. A key focus has been the rapid increase in what's known as "neighbor spoofing." These "neighbor-spoofing" calls commonly appear on a consumer's caller ID with the same area code and local exchange as the consumer in order to increase the likelihood of the consumer to answer the call.

"Robocalls are not only disruptive and bothersome, but they also allow scammers greater access and the ability to prey on our most vulnerable citizens," said Attorney General MacDonald. "That is why Attorney General Stein and I began working with attorneys general across the country more than a year ago to address this growing problem."

"In order to see a true reduction in these calls, we must apply the most effective technology available while providing greater public education, and taking appropriate enforcement action to reduce and eliminate these troubling calls. The coalition is actively engaging the telecom companies to identify and implement solutions as quickly as possible," said MacDonald.

Since this multistate group's formation in December 2017, there have been productive, in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies. These meetings have led to greater information sharing about the technological capabilities currently in existence or in development to end these calls.

In addition, many of the states, including New Hampshire, submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission encouraging the FCC to pass rules authorizing voice service providers to block more illegally spoofed phone calls than what they had previously been able to do under prior FCC rules.

Attorney General MacDonald and his colleagues are also working to:

· Develop a detailed understanding of what is technologically feasible to minimize unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarking.

· Engage the major telecom companies to encourage them to expedite the best possible solutions for consumers.

· Determine whether states should make further recommendations to the FCC. Maine's AG is also involved in the process.

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