Jessica Karmasek Jul. 24, 2015, 1:20pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The nation’s attorneys general are calling on phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to consumers.

This week, the National Association of Attorneys General -- including the attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia -- made the request in a letter sent to AT&T, CenturyLink, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The attorneys general argue that the technology already exists and would help stop robocalls, scam text messages and unwanted telemarketing calls.

“As state attorneys general, we are on the front lines of consumer protection for millions of Americans harassed by unwanted and unwelcome robocalls,” they wrote to the presidents, chairmen and CEOs of the companies. “Though our offices work diligently to prosecute those who violate state and federal laws intended to prevent such calls, our enforcement efforts alone cannot stop the problem.

“The better solution is to stop intrusive calls before they ever reach the consumer.”

Past discussions regarding the implementation of call-blocking technologies have been “cut short” by the companies’ concerns that such technology may violate federal law.

In response, a group of 39 attorneys general sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in September 2014 asking that it issue an official opinion on the matter.

The FCC responded last month, formally adopting a rule clarification that states federal law does not prohibit telecommunication service providers from offering, upon a customer’s request, services intended to block unwanted calls.

“This clarification by the FCC should remove any doubt about your legal authority to empower consumers by providing call-blocking technology to help stop robocalls, scam text messages and unwanted telemarketing calls,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter Wednesday.

The group noted that since call-blocking options already exist for Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP phone service and Android cell phones, landline and wireless carriers should “move swiftly” to implement and inform consumers of these options.

“Every year, our offices are flooded with consumer complaints pleading for a solution to stop intrusive robocalls,” the attorneys general wrote. “Your organizations are now poised to offer your customers the help they need. We urge you to act without delay.”

To read the full letter sent to the five phone companies, click here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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