Attorneys General, phone companies team up to stop robocalls

NORFOLK, Va. - Attorneys General around the country, including North Carolina and Virginia, hope a new agreement with phone companies will help cut down on the number of robocalls.

"Robocalls are a huge problem all over the country - here in Virginia and everywhere," said Mark Herring, Virginia's Attorney General. "Everyone gets them. They are annoying."

Twelve phone companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, say they're going to follow eight specific principles to help cut down on the number of calls.

Among the eight, the companies will:

-Offer free call blocking and labeling.

-Implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication, which makes it more difficult for callers to hide their real numbers.

-Analyzing and monitoring network traffic to find robocalls.

-Work with law enforcement in investigating suspicious calls and calling patterns.

-Confirm the identity of commercial customers.

-Require traceback cooperation in contracts.

-Cooperate in traceback investigations.

-Communicate with State Attorneys General.

"It's really hard to identify where the calls are coming from. Hopefully with this agreement in place, we'll have new tools to be able to identify who's making the calls and prevent them from happening in the first place," said Herring.

Help can't come soon enough. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of calls increased by 57% nationwide. In Virginia, more than 100,000 people complained to the Federal Trade Commission about robocalls.

"This will allow us to work in a more comprehensive way, focusing on prevention and enforcement," said Herring.

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