COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday joined 44 other attorneys general in calling on five major phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers.
In a joint letter to the chief executives of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and CenturyLink, the attorneys general said new clarification to a Federal Communications Commission rule allows telecommunication service providers to offer customers the ability to block unwanted calls and verifies that federal law does not prohibit offering such services.
In the letter, the attorneys general state: “Every year, our offices are flooded with consumer complaints pleading for a solution to stop intrusive robocalls. Your organizations are now poised to offer your customers the help they need. We urge you to act without delay.”
Previously, phone carriers claimed they were restricted from offering such services. At a July 2013 hearing before a Senate subcommittee, representatives from the US Telecom Association and CTIA testified that “legal barriers prevent carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.”
Last September, 39 attorneys general, including DeWine, called on the FCC to allow phone companies to utilize call-blocking technologies. The FCC chairman endorsed the request in late May and the FCC voted to pass the rule clarification on June 18.
Call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service (NoMoRobo.com) and Android cell phones (Call Control). In their letter, the attorneys general urge the phone companies to implement and to inform consumers of these options.
“Illegal and unwanted telemarketing calls are a serious problem in Ohio,” DeWine said. “Consumers ask us every day how they can stop these calls, and call-blocking technology is an important part of the solution. We are encouraging phone carriers to give consumers the option to use call-blocking technology to stop unwanted calls.”
In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section received more than 1,400 complaints about Do Not Call problems.
The attorneys general of the following states and district signed the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
A copy of the letter is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.