UTAH (ABC4) – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced on Tuesday that Utah is joining a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, consisting of 50 attorneys general to investigate and take legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for bringing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States.

The Task Force is reportedly bipartisan and has one goal, “to cut down on illegal robocalls.”

“Robocalls aren’t just a Utah problem. They are a nationwide threat,” AG Reyes said. “That is why I am proud to partner with both the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and my fellow Attorneys General across America.”

AG Reyes continued, “We will take this fight to anyone who helps these scammers and robocallers. We’ve appreciated working with the telecom industry to try and address this issue. We know they have attempted to curtail illegal robocalls. But it’s still not enough.” 

The Task Force has issued a reported 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities allegedly responsible for most foreign robocall traffic.

“Gateway providers that bring foreign traffic into the U.S. telephone network have a responsibility to ensure the traffic is legal,” a news release from the Utah Office of the Attorney General states.

The office says that these providers appear to be “intentionally turning a blind eye” in return for steady revenue.

“Robocalls are particularly damaging to consumer trust, ” said Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Busse. “Virtually everyone has received these types of calls. When consumers get an unsolicited call, it can sow distrust in all marketing calls. We support all efforts to stop companies from unethical marketing practices.”

The Task Force will reportedly focus on “bad actors” throughout the telecommunications industry to help reduce the number of robocalls that Utah’s residents receive. This will also benefit the companies that are, in fact, following the rules, the news release states.

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 include Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers, and “many other scams targeting all consumers, including some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

An estimated $29.8 billion dollars was stolen through scam calls in 2021, the news release states. Most of this scam robocall traffic reportedly originates overseas. The Task Force is “focused on shutting down the providers” that profit from this illegal scam traffic and “refuse to take steps to mitigate these scam calls” otherwise. 

Attorney General Reyes has offered the following tips to avoid 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 imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
  • If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang up and do not provide any personal information.
  • Contact the Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection at consumerprotection.utah.gov.