Attorney General Madigan Urges Phone Companies to Act to Reduce Automated Robocalls to Illinois Residents

Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday urged four leading telephone companies to address the growing problem of robocalls targeting Illinois residents.

Madigan sent letters yesterday to officials at AT&T Inc., CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Consolidated Communications, which provide the vast majority of landline telephone service for Illinois residents, urging the companies to develop technology to block the onslaught of computer-generated robocalls that seek to scam consumers who pick up the phone.

"Because the potential financial harm from calls like these is real, phone companies should be exploring ways to reduce the number of automated calls targeting Illinois residents," Madigan said. "Experts have demonstrated that there are technological solutions available that phone companies can use to cut down on these calls."

Despite coordinated efforts by Madigan's office, other state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Illinois residents continue to report robocalls to their homes, even when residents have placed their numbers on the Federal Trade Commission's "Do Not Call" list. The calls frequently originate from scammers in foreign countries, using technology to hide their location and identity, which makes enforcement efforts against them difficult.

As recently as this summer, Madigan issued an alert about the latest series of robocalls targeting Illinois seniors, which asked them to provide personal financial information to pay for services they never asked for or wanted. Across the country, during a three-month period in 2012, the FTC received an average of 200,000 complaints per month about robocalls. This figure marked a more than 200 percent increase from the same time period only three years earlier.

In today's letter, Madigan asked the phone companies to explore technological solutions that would put a stop to these automated calls before they ever reach a consumer's home.