FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Andy Beshear

Beshear, AGs Call on FCC to Help Stop Out-of-Country Scam Calls

Today, Attorney General Andy Beshear and a coalition of 41 other attorneys general called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the rise of illegal scam calls.

 In formal legal comments, the attorneys general encourage the FCC to adopt rules laying out a strategic approach to help battle the constant invasion of illegal scam calls, many coming from criminals located out of the country, while also addressing the rampant use of spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services.

 These provisions are included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill, also known as the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018. The rule changes would broaden the FCC’s authority to hold bad actors accountable, regardless of where the communications originate.

 Americans received almost 18 billion scam calls in 2018 and overall scam calls increased in the U.S. by 57% from 2017 to 2018. The FCC reports that imposter scams cost consumers $488 million in 2018 alone.

 “Through this bipartisan coalition, I am asking the FCC to take further action to stop the barrage of scam phone calls and help end the financial losses tied to these scams,” said Beshear. “All scammers are unwelcome, especially those who intentionally trick Kentuckians by illegally using caller ID spoofing so they appear to be calling from a local, or US-based phone number.”  

 Caller ID spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their location and/or identity. Spoofing is illegal when used with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value.

The attorneys general write in their comments that the number of spoofed scam calls and the monetary losses tied to them have increased by nearly 50% in recent years.

The FCC offers these tips to help Kentuckians avoid spoofing scams:

  • Do not answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If a caller or a recording asks you to hit a button to stop getting calls, you should hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, passwords or any other identifying information in response to unknown callers.

Since taking office, Beshear and his Office of Senior Protection and Mediation and Office of Consumer Protection have worked to stop scams and scam calls. 

 Last year, the Office of the Attorney General met with the FCC, who is pressing cell phone carriers to provide better scam call identification and blocking tools to their subscribers. Earlier this year, the FCC issued a report that states the industry is working on a system to validate caller ID and end illegal spoofing by verifying that a call actually comes from the number shown on the caller ID.

 In January, Beshear sent a letter to Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher, of Louisville, in support of his bill, House Bill 84, which aims to combat con artists who spoof Kentucky phone numbers to try to trick Kentuckians into falling victim to their scams.

 In March, Beshear and other attorneys general urged the U.S. Senate to enact legislation to curb illegal scam phone calls and caller ID spoofing – the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act – sponsored by Sens. John Thune and Ed Markey.

That legislation would require voice service providers to participate in a call authentication framework to help block unwanted calls and create an interagency working group to take additional actions to reduce scam calls and hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable.

Beshear encourages all Kentuckians to use the National Do Not Call Registry provided by the FCC and to report scam calls via his office’s online form.

 To help Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers, Beshear launched Scam Alerts. To enroll in this scam warning system, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV-311 (468-311) or sign up online at ag.ky.gov/scams. You can select text message or email alerts. Nearly 24,000 Kentuckians are signed up to receive Scam Alerts.

 When Kentuckians fall victim to scams and bad business practices, Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection is there to help them recover. Beshear’s administration has returned more than $2 million to Kentuckians, averaging nearly $2,600 a day back in the pockets of Kentucky families.

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