Attorney General Kane calls on phone providers to offer call-blocking technology to customers

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and 44 other state attorneys general today sent a letter to the principals of five major phone companies in which they asked the companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers.

In the joint letter, the attorneys general said a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule clarification allows phone providers to offers customers the ability to block unwanted calls, which often come from telemarketers. The rule clarification also states that federal law does not prohibit offering call-blocking technology.

“It is important that consumers have the option of putting an end to unwanted and annoying phone calls,” Attorney General Kane said. “Offering this technology would create a solution that consumers have needed for quite some time.”

The letter was sent to the principals for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and Century Link. Its closing paragraph states, “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.”

Attorney General Kane said the phone carriers previously claimed they could not offer such call-blocking services. At a July 2013 hearing before a Senate subcommittee, representatives from the United States Telecom Association and the Cellular Telephone Industries Association testified that “legal barriers prevent … carriers from implementing advanced call-blocking technology to reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls.”

Last September, Attorney General Kane and 38 other state attorneys general asked the FCC to clarify the ability of phone companies to allow their customers to utilize call-blocking technologies. The FCC chairman endorsed the request in late May and the FCC voted on June 18 to pass the rule clarification.

Call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service (www.NoMoRobo.com) and cell phones (Call Control). Attorney General Kane urged phone providers to move quickly to implement and inform their customers of these options.

The other attorneys general offices that signed today’s letter are: 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, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming