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CFO Jimmy Patronis to FCC: Block Spam Calls for Free

2/17/2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to require all cellphone carriers to provide free, comprehensive spam blocking services to all customers. In 2020, nearly 4 billion robocalls were received by consumers per month, which led to consumers losing $436 million to fraud via phone. Additionally, CFO Patronis supports Senate Bill 1292 and House Bill 749, which will require salespersons making telephone calls to provide their full legal name, license number, and their telephone number. This legislation will help to protect consumers as would increased efforts by the cellphone carriers to block spam calls for free.
 
READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW AND HERE
February 17, 2022
 
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel
Federal Communications Commission
45 L Street North East
Washington, DC 20554
 
Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel:
 
I am writing to express my growing concern regarding the staggering volume of robocalls being made to consumers across the country, particularly in the State of Florida. As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, consumer protection is a top priority for me, and I am worried about vulnerable consumers falling prey to scammers making spam phone calls. It is imperative that these robocalls be curbed immediately. I am aware that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been working to combat robocalls;[1] however, I want to urge the FCC to require all cellphone carriers to provide free, comprehensive spam blocking services to all customers.
 
As you are aware, the amount of robocalls inundating consumers is astonishing and alarming. Nearly 4 billion robocalls were received by consumers every month in 2020.[2] What is even more alarming is the nefarious nature of many of these calls. Scammers will often attempt to steal money from consumers or gather personal information that can be used in identity theft scams. Using robocalls to perpetrate fraud, scammers took $436 million from American consumers in 2020.[3] Among those being scammed are our most vulnerable populations, like seniors and persons with disabilities. Additionally, robocall scammers are even trying to take advantage of people during this difficult pandemic by selling fake COVID-19 tests.[4]
 
Given the current situation, it has come to my attention that some cellphone carriers are requiring customers to pay for comprehensive spam blocking services. While some spam blocking services are being offered for free, certain carriers have a premium tier of spam blocking benefits available to consumers if they pay. I believe that all spam blocking services should be free to every customer because of how important it is to eliminate scams and protect consumers. The carriers should not be profiting off their customers when it comes to spam call prevention, nor should they be exposing their customers to identity theft and other scams in favor of profits. I urge the FCC to consider requiring all cellphone carriers to provide these services for free.
 
My office is ready to help if possible and do what it takes to protect Floridians and consumers across the country from harmful scams facilitated by robocalls. I am currently supporting legislation in Florida that would require salespersons making telephone calls to provide their full legal name, license number, and their telephone number. This legislation will help to protect consumers as would increased efforts by the cellphone carriers to block spam calls for free. Thank you for your work on this very pressing matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer
  

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[1] I applaud the FCC’s proposed rule, Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, Call Authentication Trust Anchor (86 FR 59084), that would require gateway providers to apply STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication in order to verify calls that originate in foreign countries. I greatly appreciate these efforts to decrease the number of robocalls reaching consumers and I stand in strong support of this proposed rule.
[2] The FCC’S Push to Combat Robocalls and Spoofing, https://www.fcc.gov/spoofed-robocalls (last accessed 1/13/2022).
[3] Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, Call Authentication Trust Anchor, 86 FR 59084.
[4] Beware of COVID-19 Testing Scams, News 19, https://whnt.com/news/coronavirus/beware-of-covid-19-testing-scams/ (last accessed 1/13/2022).

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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).