In other views: Fighting robocalls | Opinion

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Robocalls are unwanted and unsolicited phone calls that area residents regularly experience. Despite a number of laws passed in recent years to reduce this problem, nuisance calls continue to roll into our cell phones and landlines.

But the fight to stop the robocalls continues. Earlier this month, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that Mountain State had joined a National Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force of 50 attorneys general to investigate and file a lawsuit. legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for allowing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States. states.

Participants in this bipartisan task force have one goal, which is to reduce the volume of illegal robocalls, Morrisey said.

“Over time, one of the most frequent complaints our office has received is about robocalls and the scams they often produce,” Morrisey said. “This obviously impacts not just West Virginia, but the entire country. That’s why this bipartisan effort is so important. We are now ready to fight anyone who helps these calling robots, including those in the telecommunications industry.

The task force has already issued 20 civil investigation requests to 20 gateway providers and other entities believed to be responsible for the majority of foreign robocall traffic, according to the attorney general’s office. Gateway providers who bring foreign traffic onto the US telephone network are responsible for ensuring that the traffic is legal. However, these providers often don’t take enough action to stop robocall traffic, Morrisey said.

In order to help reduce the number of robocalls West Virginia residents receive, the task force will focus on those in the telecommunications industry who fail to mitigate fraudulent calls. Morrisey said it would also help businesses that play by the rules.

Morrisey began discussions in 2019 with several telephone companies in an effort to secure their commitment to accelerate the rollout of scam blocking technology. Soon after, he joined state attorneys general in reaching a bipartisan public-private agreement that led several telephone companies to adopt eight principles to combat illegal robocalls.

Congress also recently passed the TRACED Act, a law that allows states, federal regulators and telecommunications providers to take action to combat illegal calls.

According to the National Consumer Law Center and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Americans receive more than 33 million fraudulent robocalls every day. These calls include the Social Security Administration fraud against the elderly, Amazon scams, and many other schemes targeting consumers.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, approximately $29.8 billion was stolen through fraudulent calls in 2021. Most of this fraudulent activity originates overseas.

The task force initiative is another necessary step to eliminate the nuisance known as robocalls. It doesn’t matter if you have a cell phone or a landline, chances are you’ve recently received an unwanted robocall.

Maybe one day in the not too distant future we can answer our phones without worrying about robocalls.

But until that day comes, the Attorney General’s Office offers the following suggestions on how to protect yourself from robocalls.

• Beware of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.

• Beware of pre-recorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. As a general rule, the Social Security Administration does not make any telephone calls to individuals.

• If you suspect fraudulent activity, hang up immediately and do not provide any personal information.

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