Deal harshly with illegal robocallers when identified

It was welcome news earlier this week when it was announced that a dozen of the biggest phone companies will join a crackdown on those nuisance robocalls we all get.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced that a coalition of 51 attorneys general has reached an agreement with 12 national telephone companies, under which the phone companies will take immediate steps to help protect customers from illegal robocalls.

Good. It’s about time the phone companies and law enforcement came together to fight the ever-growing illegal activities of the common criminals behind robocalls. They are mostly scammers, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC says if a business is willing to break the law just by calling you, the reason for their call is highly questionable. They’re more than just scammers, though.

Who hasn’t jumped out of the shower in the morning or out of their easy-chair after a long day to answer what they fear might be an emergency call? Then comes the telltale moment of silence. Crap, another stupid robocall. Why do I even bother?

Because we do bother picking up is the reason robocalls still exist; the crooks are taking advantage of our good nature and our misplaced trust that they are somehow being policed. They are bad people preying on us.

Stenhejem’s announcement said the agreement will make it easier for the attorneys general to locate, investigate, and prosecute the “bad actors” behind robocalls. Bad actors? Tom Cruise is a bad actor, these people are criminals who have not been treated harshly enough to date. Hopefully their time has come.

Stenehjem also said the phone companies have agreed to “implement call-blocking technology at no cost to customers, monitor their networks for robocall traffic, and utilize technology to ensure that calls to customers are coming from a legitimate source.”

That is certainly great and wonderful news, yet sounds like something the phone companies should have been doing all along.

“The promise of the telephone providers to trace these illegal calls will make it possible for us to determine who is making them so we can prosecute or fine them,” Stenhejem said.

Time will tell. And we will all know if progress is being made. The success of this new collaboration between the phone companies and prosecuters will be known in every household in the United States, by the number of incoming phone calls – and whether that dreaded pause precedes “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of …”