AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon implement tools to battle robocalls

AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are heeding requests from the FCC and a coalition of 45 state attorneys to develop methods to block automated telemarketing calls, otherwise known as robocalls, reports Bloomberg.

The group of state attorneys recently sent a letter to AT&T, CenturyLink, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon asking them to implement technology to stop robocalls to consumers.

CenturyLink said it is using security screening products and privacy IDs to reduce the volume of robocalls, while Verizon is providing some services to cut unwanted calls.

Initially, service providers were hesitant to put in place technology to block robocalls over concerns that it could violate federal laws, but the FCC said in June that there are "no legal barriers" to fixing the problem.

The regulator issued a package of declaratory rulings designed to give consumers rights to control the calls they receive. As part of that package, the commission said that "telephone companies face no legal barriers to allowing consumers to choose to use robocall-blocking technology."

"Every year, our offices are flooded with consumer complaints pleading for a solution to stop intrusive robocalls," attorneys general, including New York's Eric Schneiderman, said in a statement. "Your organizations are now poised to offer your customers the help they need."

Consumer reports to regulators of unwanted calls have continued to rise. In 2014, the FCC said it received over 215,000 complaints.

Although robocalls for sales purposes are illegal under federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, solicitors have been able to get around the law by using auto-dialing technologies and ID-"spoofing," which enables companies to hide behind fake phone numbers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, companies that use robocalling technologies often don't screen numbers that are listed on the Do Not Call Registry and are looking to lure consumers into a scam to steal their identity.

For more:
- Bloomberg has this article

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