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Attorney General Mark Herring joins bipartisan effort to stop illegal robocalls

RICHMOND, Va. -- Attorney General Mark Herring has joined a bipartisan effort calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create new rules that would allow telephone service providers to block more illegal robocalls.

In a recent CBS 6 Problem Solvers investigation, we discovered that complaints about unwanted calls in Virginia have more than doubled in the past four years, according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics.

“It seems today like every Virginian has either received these annoying robocalls or they know someone who has, even I have received them, and I am the Attorney General,” said Attorney General Herring.

Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general in calling on the FCC to take stronger action to protect people across the country from robocalls.

“These robocalls are not just annoying and frustrating to consumers but they are also illegal, and folks should not have to worry about being scammed by these types of phone calls,” he added.

In 2017, the FTC received 232, 818 complaints about violations of the "Do Not Call" list from Virginia residents, which ranks fourth nationally.  The number of complaints has spiked as of late. In fact, the number of complaints to the FTC more than doubled from 2015 to 2017.

People with the "804" area code lodged the third highest total of complaints statewide.

The formal comment to the FCC explains that scammers using illegal robocalls have found ways to evade a call blocking order entered last year by the FCC. That order blocked granted phone service providers authority to block certain illegal spoofed robocalls.

Despite the order, the Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million illegal robocall complaints – two and a half times more than in 2014.

“Virtually anyone can send millions of illegal robocalls and frustrate law enforcement with just a computer, inexpensive software and an internet connection,” the attorneys general wrote in the formal comment filed with the FCC.

The attorney generals support a new initiative, which will give phone service providers the ability to authenticate legitimate calls and identify illegally spoofed calls and block them.

“The added authority sought by the attorneys general will allow service providers to use new technology to detect and block illegal spoofed calls – even those coming from what are otherwise legitimate phone numbers. Service providers will be ready to launch this new authentication method in 2019,” according to the attorney general’s office.