COLUMBUS — Attorney General Dave Yost last week announced Ohio has teamed with Indiana, North Carolina and 47 other attorneys general in forming a national Anti‑Robocall Litigation Task Force to investigate and take legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for bringing most of the overseas-based robocalls into the United States.
This bipartisan task force has a singular goal: to end illegal robocalls.
“Robocalls are worse than mosquitoes, pesky and annoying,” Yost said. “This task force will be a nationwide bug zapper, not letting robocallers hide or get away with their deceptive acts.”
The task force recently issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities allegedly responsible for a majority of the foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers that bring foreign traffic into the U.S. phone network have a responsibility to ensure that the traffic is legal, but these providers are not taking sufficient action to stop illegal calls.
In many cases, the bad actors appear to be intentionally turning a blind eye in return for steady revenue. The task force is focusing on shutting down companies that profit from the illegal robocalls so that companies following the rules benefit.
According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, Americans are bombarded every day with more than 33 million illegal robocalls – calls that encompass Social Security fraud against senior citizens, Amazon scams and many other scams targeting consumers.
Last year, an estimated $29.8 billion was stolen from consumers through such fraudulent calls.
The attorney general offers the following consumer tips for avoiding scams and unwanted calls:
Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.
Look out for prerecorded calls from impostors posing as employees of government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang up; do not provide the caller any personal information.
Consumers who receive unwanted calls can complete an Unwanted Call Notification Form at www.OhioProtects.org. That information is shared with the Robocall Enforcement Unit, which uses the reports to identify trends and protect Ohioans.