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Florida takes aim at illegal robocalls and the phone providers that allow them

A new litigation task force has been formed, and Attorney General Ashley Moody is part of the executive committee.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A new task force of lawyers will work to prevent pesky robocalls — and Florida will help spearhead the effort.

Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday announced the formation of the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, which she said would investigate international scammers who target Americans. The panel includes 50 attorneys general who say they'll work to shut down phone service providers that don't take steps to prevent illegal robocall traffic because they're turning a profit.

"Ahead of today’s announcement, the task force issued 20 investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities that are allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers that bring foreign traffic into the U.S. telephone network are responsible for ensuring the traffic is legal, but the task force believes these providers are not taking sufficient action to stop illegal robocall traffic," Moody's office wrote in an email.

The Sunshine State is part of the task force's executive committee, giving it a heightened responsibility in the mission to curb illegal robocalls. Florida wants to go after "bad actors in the telecom industry" and give companies incentives to follow the rules, according to a press release.

“My office is working with states across the nation to stop the influx of illegal robocalls originating overseas," Moody explained in a statement. "These calls are often used to execute devious scams and steal from Americans—so it’s important that we work together to investigate these foreign phone calls and find ways to stop them from harming our citizens.”

Moody's office cited research from the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, which found Americans receive more than 33 million scam robocalls each day.

"These calls include government imposters posing as the Social Security Administration or the Internal Revenue Service, fraud against seniors, online shopping scams and many other schemes," Moody's office said. "In 2021, scam calls resulted in an estimated loss of $29.8 billion to consumers, with most of the calls originating overseas."

In 2021, 10 Investigates published a major investigation about robocalls and exposed how Florida inmates were making some of the calls.

In an email, Moody offered the following advice for Floridians dealing with calls:

  • Be wary of callers claiming to represent government agencies or other organizations who specifically request payment by gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. For example, the IRS does not accept iTunes gift cards;
  • Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the SSA does not make phone calls to individuals; and
  • If the call seems to be fraudulent activity, immediately hang up and do not provide any personal information. If unsure whether a call is from a business or imposter, hang up and call the company’s public customer service phone number.

Here are some further steps from Moody's team:

  • Click here to put your number on the national Do Not Call Registry.
  • Click here to put your number on Florida's Do Not Call list.
  • Click here to report an illegal robocall you received.
  • Click here for a brochure to learn more about getting rid of unwanted calls and messages. (A Spanish-language version is available here).

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