(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong and a bipartisan coalition of legislators today announced new proposed legislation to strengthen Connecticut’s ability to fight obnoxious and intrusive robocalls. The legislation would modernize the state’s anti-robocall statutes to match new tactics and technology used to inundate Connecticut households with relentless, unwanted calls.
Connecticut’s robocall statutes have not been updated since 2015. Some portions have not been updated since they were first enacted in 1996. Our laws have failed to keep up with current tactics used by scammers. Specifically, the proposal expands the statutes to cover text messages, bans “gateway” voice over internet protocol (VoIP) providers from facilitating overseas scammers’ access to the U.S. telecom networks, allows for enforcement action against calls received by Connecticut area codes regardless of where the calls originate, bars telemarketers from contacting Connecticut residents before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m., strengthens disclosures that telemarketers must make, and clarifies protections provided by the Do Not Call List.
“Americans lose billions of dollars each year to robocall scams. Our laws have failed to keep pace with the tactics and technology these scammers use. Our bipartisan proposal brings Connecticut’s robocall laws into the modern era. It’s not just phone calls anymore– we need to crack down on fraudulent text messages too. And we need to take on the gateway providers that get rich off patching overseas scammers into our American networks. With strong, modern laws we can shut down this telecom fraud highway and bring scammers to justice,” said Attorney General Tong.
“In addition to being just downright annoying, robocalls and telemarketing – especially those originating overseas – are a hotbed of consumer fraud.” Rep. Mike D’Agostino said. “Our continued collaborative work with Attorney General Tong, and his office, will strengthen our enforcement and consumer protection safeguards, so we can do more to prevent these activities.”
“Eliminating robocalls is one of the many important measures we can take to ensure protection for Connecticut’s consumers. Fraudulent companies are popping up every day and consistently targeting those who they know will likely fall victims to their schemes. More than just intrusive and annoying, for our most vulnerable residents robocalls have caused significant financial losses. I thank Attorney General Tong for not only working to stop these predatory companies and assist their victims, but for looking for a long-term solution to protect our residents,” said Rep. Jeff Currey.
“I have worked diligently to protect Connecticut online data privacy and now I am committed to overseeing legislation that works to protect you when answering a phone call. Thank you to Attorney General William Tong for his efforts in providing preventative measures when it comes to consistent robocalls,” said Sen. James Maroney. “I, like many Connecticut residents, frequently receive calls from ‘Spam Risk’. I will join AG Tong in the fight to protect the privacy and solitude for all Connecticut residents.”
State Rep. David Rutigliano said, “I am pleased to join the Attorney General as his office focuses on this most important topic to my constituents, these calls and deceptive tactics are not just a nuisance, they are potential fraud.”
“As the ranking member of the General Law Committee, my top priority is to deliver effective solutions for my constituents, particularly senior citizens, who are increasingly plagued by intrusive and predatory robo-calls. These calls are often used by dishonest actors to deceive even the most discerning individuals,” said State Sen. Paul Cicarella. “Not only are these calls unwanted, but they are also misleading—they often appear to originate from local sources when they are actually coming from thousands of miles away. We must take a stand against these malicious practices and work to prevent people from being exploited through their phones, which are our primary connection to the world around us.”
“In 2020, 9 in 10 American adults encountered a fraud attempt and according to the Federal Trade Commission, the phone remains the most successful way to target a scam. Scammers have latched on to robocall technology to bilk consumers. Our consumer protections need to line up with ever changing technology and cover all forms of person to person communications,” said Nora Duncan, State Director for AARP Connecticut.
In 2022 alone, Connecticut consumers received approximately 471 million robocalls. Of those, 26 percent were scams. These calls predominantly originate overseas using automated dialing systems, chat bots, and prerecorded calls. VoIP gateway providers play a big role in facilitating these scams by enabling these foreign calls into the U.S. telephone network. Without these willing gateway providers, these scam calls could not get through. This legislation seeks to hold those gateway providers accountable by extending liability to those who provide substantial support or assistance to those engaging in the fraud.
Connecticut is among 16 states leading the nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force. In its first action last summer, the task force issued 20 civil investigative demands seeking information from 20 gateway providers and other entities allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic into our country. That investigation is active and ongoing. Those civil investigative demands were filed in an Indiana state court under state laws there. The proposed legislation would bring Connecticut’s statutes in line with other states and strengthen Connecticut’s ability to pursue independent actions against bad actors facilitating intrusive scam calls in our state.