Politics

Rutledge Continues Long Fight to End Robocalls

LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Arkansas is joining a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force with 48 other states and the District of Columbia. The purpose is to investigate and take necessary legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for allowing a majority of foreign robocalls to enter the United States. The bipartisan task force’s goal is to cut down on illegal robocalls.

“These providers have profited for far too long at the expense of Arkansans with the millions of annoying and sometimes dangerous scam calls,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Providers have been warned; the Task Force is ready to bring enforcement action and they will have to pay the price for their unlawful activity.”

The task force has issued civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities responsible for a majority of incoming foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers that allow this traffic to enter the U.S. should ensure that the calls are legal. However, in many cases the companies appear to intentionally refuse to prevent these calls so that their revenue is not negatively impacted. The task force will focus on the bad actors throughout the telecommunications industry to help reduce the number of robocalls that Arkansans receive.

Rutledge has led the national effort demanding a stronger oversight from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by collaborating with private sector entities in order to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers. In August 2019, Rutledge was instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecommunication companies to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls. In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholders to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 which require telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission certifying that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.

According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, over 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day. These scam calls frequently consist of Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers and many others. An estimated $29.8 billion dollars was stolen from consumers through scam calls in 2021. Most of this scam robocall traffic originates overseas. The task force is focused on shutting down the providers that profit from this illegal scam traffic and refuse to prevent these scam calls from reaching consumers.

Attorney General Rutledge offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:

  • Do not answer a call from a number you do not know. If it is a legitimate call, they will leave a voicemail.
  • Robocallers often call simply to verify if a number is working. If you do not answer, eventually they will stop calling because they cannot confirm the number is working.
  • If you answer a call that turns out to be a robocall, hang up. Do not press any buttons or provide any information.
  • Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. Know that legitimate companies and government agencies never accept gift cards as a form of payment.
  • Beware of prerecorded calls from imposters posing as law enforcement or other government agencies. The Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service do not make phone calls to individuals.
  • Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry online at donotcall.gov.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to scam, or to file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email [email protected] or visit ArkansasAG.gov

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves on committees for Consumer Protection, Criminal Law and Veterans Affairs for the National Association of Attorneys General. She also served as the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.

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