Iowa attorney general working with other states to fight robocalls


    Iowa's chief lawyer is teaming up with 38 other states and the District of Columbia to curb the amount of robocalls.

    Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general nationwide to take a look at the problem, which data shows has surged from 2.7 million to 5.1 billion robocalls in just one year.

    The group is reviewing technology major telecom companies use to fight illegal robocalls. But just what states can do legally to combat the problem gets murky with federal loopholes and the technology used by the individuals making the calls---many of whom are overseas, said Deputy Attorney General Nathan Blake.

    "Iowans are unique in lots of ways but we are not unique in this problem," Blake said. "We’re just trying to figure out anything we can do.”

    The group is also looking to educate consumers about current call-blocking options and work alongside major telecom companies encouraging them to expedite possible solutions.

    "The robocall problem is getting worse," Miller said. "These calls are not simply annoying; in some cases, they are employed by scammers to prey upon consumers."

    In June, one business in Indianola fell victim to companies using its number to robocall people locally. This practice, known as spoofing, sparked a surge in phone calls to Chumbley's Auto Care. Owner Tim Davison said phones were ringing off the hook fin June when people were calling the auto repair shop after the business seemingly called them first.

    Staff took as many as 6,000 calls over a two-day period.

    “We finally pieced it together that it was a robocall that spammed our number and was just blasting it out," Davison said, noting he had to explain to many people how it happened.

    There isn't one single way to combat these calls but there are some steps you can take to prevent them, like calling your phone company or downloading mobile apps designed to block calls.

    If you believe you've been scammed as a result of a robocall, contact the Consumer Protection Division at the Iowa Attorney General's office here.

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