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Beshear: Making Progress on Scam Calls in Kentucky

As your attorney general, I have made it a top priority to protect Kentuckians from scammers and stop annoying and illegal scam phone calls.

A recent opinion article published in many local newspapers called on my office to “see what can be done to get a ‘no call’ list that actually works.”

While the National Do Not Call Registry effectively protects against telemarketing sales calls for legitimate products or services, this registry was not designed to address the current problem. Now we face scammers who are determined to break the law and who often do so from locations outside the United States to avoid prosecution.

To stop these con artists, my team and I have worked with our federal law enforcement partners, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other attorneys general to block out-of-country scam calls, restrict caller ID spoofing and implement solutions to help everyone impacted. And major progress is happening right now.

Last year, I urged the FCC to adopt rules that allow phone service providers to use new technology to block illegal spoofed calls. In June, the FCC voted unanimously to allow phone companies to join our fight. Before the change, providers were required by law to complete known scam calls and now they can block them before they ever reach your phone. This is a huge step forward.

Soon after the rule change occurred, AT&T became the first major wireless company to start blocking scam calls. Carriers can now go as far as allowing customers to block calls from any number that does not appear on their contact list or other approved lists.  

Just think, if providers block 30% of scam calls, it might be enough to cause these large operations to lose enough money that it drives them out of business. Out-of-business scammers means more Kentucky families keeping their money in their pockets.

As for spoofed scam calls, the monetary losses tied to them have increased by nearly 50% in recent years and that is why we have supported efforts to require service providers to implement a caller ID authentication framework. Some carriers are already helping by identifying a call as “scam likely” or “scam call.”

We also continue to take action against those who break the law. My office was part of a national sweep recently with the FTC and other states that cracked down on nearly 100 illegal call operations. These operations were responsible for more than one billion illegal calls – and now they aren’t calling anyone anymore.

We are working to build an “ironclad” call-blocking system, hold con artists accountable and educate and help Kentuckians. 

You can join us in fighting scammers by contacting your phone carrier or internet service provider to ask about call-blocking technology that can help stop most scam calls. Avoiding scams also includes knowing to never trust the caller ID and to never answer calls from unknown phone numbers. 

Another way to stay ahead of scammers is to sign up to receive Scam Alerts from my office. Start receiving text or email alerts when new scams are reported in the state by texting the words KYOAG SCAM to GOV-311 or visit ag.ky.gov/scams.

We are more effective at stopping future scams when current victims come forward to report losses to my office. Complaints can be easily filed on our website. We are here to help and, to date, we have returned more than $2.1 million to Kentuckians who have needed mediation services or been scammed.

I am proud of the work of my team and rest assured that we aren’t going to stop fighting to protect Kentucky families from scam calls.

Andy Beshear is the Attorney General of Kentucky