UPDATE 2-AT&T, Apple, Google to work on 'robocall' crackdown

Fri Aug 19, 2016 4:01pm EDT
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(New throughout, adds more details and comment from Consumers Union comment)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON Aug 19 (Reuters) - More than 30 major technology and communication companies said on Friday they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on "robocalls," automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a "scourge."

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the "Robocall Strike Force" that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on "concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions," said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a "Do Not Originate" list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

"This scourge must stop," Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

"The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology," Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue "due in large part to industry inaction."   Continued...