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Attorney General Nessel Works to Expose Illegal Robocallers

LANSING -- Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, along with the 51 other attorneys general recently encouraged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies to coordinate tracing back illegal robocalls to their source through a single, FCC-sanctioned industry group.

In a letter sent Friday to the FCC, the State Attorneys General Robocall Working Group expressed continued commitment to exposing illegal robocallers.

“Illegal robocalls continue to be a public nuisance for people across this nation and I am proud to join my colleagues in continuing our efforts to hold these scammers accountable,” Nessel said. “The reality is that even in the midst of a pandemic, illegal robocallers have not let up on their attempts to bamboozle residents out of their hard-earned money. It’s imperative that we do all that we can to protect consumers from these bad actors.”

Under the TRACED Act, which became law in December 2019, the FCC will select a single registered association to manage the work to trace back illegal robocalls. Because a call can pass through the networks of many telecom companies before reaching its final destination, tracing that call—which is key to enforcing laws against illegal robocallers—requires collaboration among telecom companies, federal enforcers, and state attorneys general. In their comments, the states note that traceback investigations are necessary for law enforcement to more efficiently identify and investigate illegal robocallers and expose voice service providers that assist and facilitate illegal robocallers.

For the last few years, state attorneys general have encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of traceback investigations each month. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Traceback investigations are more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.

Since 2018, Michigan has been a leading member of a coalition of states working with the telecom industry to attack the scourge of robocalls in a comprehensive way by implementing common-sense business practices to minimize illegal robocalls and trace these calls back to their source. In early May, Nessel cosponsored a letter to USTelecom urging the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited to law enforcement needs.

Attorney General Nessel joins the 49 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in submitting the letter.

A copy of the letter is available here.

How to Report a Robocall in Michigan:

The best way to deal with robocalls is to simply hang up or don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. However, to aid investigators in their efforts to hold robocallers accountable, certain pieces of information are extremely helpful to the department’s efforts to investigate, particularly when submitted to the Attorney General’s office as part of an official complaint:  

  • Robocaller’s phone number;  
  • Your phone number and service provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.); 
  • The date and time of the robocall; 
  • Whether the robocall was soliciting goods or services; and
  • The topic of the robocall scam (e.g. student loans, Social Security numbers, IRS liability, etc.).  

Please note:  Robocalls to landlines cannot be traced back so any complaints about landline calls cannot be used to further the department’s investigation.

For more information on Michigan’s Robocall Crackdown Team, visit our website.

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