ALTIMORE, MD — The Maryland attorney general says phone companies have agreed to curb the more than 100 million illegal robocalls made each month in the state. Twelve phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls and make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute bad actors nationwide, officials said.
A record 5.2 billion robocalls were placed nationwide in January 2019, while 4.7 billion such calls were made last month, according to YouMail's robocall index, and 58 percent of them were scam or telemarketing calls. That includes 105.7 million robocalls in Maryland in July 2019, an average of 12.7 for every person in the state.
"We are harassed by robocalls every day. It is the number one complaint to attorneys general offices across the country," said Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. "The goal of many of the individuals making these calls is to steal your identity or steal your money. These annoying and relentless calls are difficult to track and difficult to prosecute. Most often they originate outside our states and even outside our country."
Here are the top 20 robocallers in Maryland last month, showing the number, the caller ID and the type of call. They include legitimate debt collectors, a mortgage company, credit card company and a utility company, along with spammers.
1. 800-955-6600, Capital One Payments/Collections, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder
2. 443-602-8540, Prison Call Consent, Prison Call Consent
3. 888-423-0900, Verizon, Payment Reminder
4. 855-752-1074, Baltimore Gas and Electric, General Alert
5. 443-305-9242, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder
6. 240-249-2566, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder
7. 855-245-7098, Transworld Systems Incorporated, Debt Collector
8. 801-877-1122, Telemarketing, Telemarketing
9. 571-316-2448, Debt Collector, Debt Collector
10. 877-647-8552, Wells Fargo, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder
11. 855-895-3382, Fingerhut, Payment Reminder
12. 800-521-4956, National Recovery Agency, Debt Collector
13. 800-816-5569, Transworld Systems Incorporated, Debt Collector
14. 443-425-3331, Payment Reminder, Payment Reminder
15. 703-255-8062, Navy Federal Credit Union, Financial Customer Call
16. 800-266-2278, Comcast, Customer Call
17. 202-470-4151, Generic Robocaller, Generic Robocaller
18. 800-531-8722, USAA, Financial Customer Call
19. 866-890-3387, First Premier Bank, Bank/Credit Card Payment Reminder
20. 240-342-3447, IRS Scam, IRS Scam
Phone companies helping in the robocall crackdown include AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon and Windstream.
Frosh's office said phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:
- Implementing free call-blocking technology at the network level;
- Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools;
- Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source;
- Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.
Phone companies will assist attorneys' general anti-robocall enforcement by:
- Knowing who their customers are so those making robocalls can be identified and investigated;
- Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general;
- Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls;
- Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.
The FCC offers a few tips for those wanting to stop unwanted and illegal robocalls. Among them, don't answer calls from unknown numbers, do not respond to questions — especially those that can be answered with "yes" — and never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers and mother's maiden names.