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Major Phone Companies Join With Attorneys General To Go After Illegal Robocalls

Josh Stein, North Carolina Attorney General

Major phone companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have pledged to combat harassing robocalls that prey on vulnerable customers. The companies agreed to do more to stop the harassment at the prodding of a coalition of attorneys general led by North Carolina A.G. Josh Stein.

At a press conference in Washington, D.C. Thursday, with other attorneys general, Stein laid out the collaborative strategy to fight illegal robocalls.

“The eight principles address illegal robocalls in two fundamental ways prevention and enforcement," Stein said.

"The phone companies will help prevent illegal robocalls by implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.”

Phone companies will additionally offer customers free, easy to use technology for call blocking and call labeling. 

In July, North Carolinians received 166.4 million robocalls, an average of 19.6 per person, according to the call-blocking company YouMail. In 2018, Americans dealt with nearly 48 billion robocalls, according to the company. 

Stein says these calls aren't just a nuisance, but also scams that can cause serious damage.

“A woman in Hickory, North Carolina she fell victim to a robocall about a sweepstakes and lost $220,000 as a result of these scams. We owe it to the most vulnerable in our communities to do everything in our power to protect them.”

Stein says he started this effort 18 months ago. He says just last month his office heard from thousands of North Carolinians who have been harmed or harassed by unwanted and illegal robocalls. 

Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.