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Vermont AG aims to make dent in robocall scourge

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 8:24 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is cracking down on robocalls, the ubiquitous pre-recorded messages -- often scams -- that clog mobile phones and landlines alike.

“They’re horrible! We get them at least three times a day,” said Peggy Rozell of Rutland.

“I think it’s one of the biggest irritations with the cell phone,” said Ty English of Rutland.

Now, the Vermont Attorney General’s office is creating a team to tackle the calls, which can include calls from overseas crime syndicates aimed to defraud U.S. consumers. Through investigations, the state has already reached a settlement with one Florida company, Strategic IT Partner, which was allowing calls from one group claiming to be Social Security officials. “These U.S. phone companies act as gateways for fraud and that is what we are focusing on today and going forward,” said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

He says the settlement requires the Florida company to determine the legitimacy of all foreign calls. The state will get $7,000, and another $60,000 fine will be suspended if the company violates the terms. “This is not the end of robocalls -- I want to be clear with Vermonters -- but for our office, this settlement is the start of a long-term commitment in addressing illegal robocalls,” Donovan said.

The AG says Vermonters like Rozell are plagued by upwards of 160,000 robocalls every day. “It gets a little ridiculous. She’s gotta go to school and the phone is ringing. You think there is a family emergency and instead, you’ve got a scam artist on the other call,” Rozell said.

“Wake you up in the middle of the night, I don’t know how many people get that. You think it’s your kids calling and then you go and it’s spam or some robocalls,” English said.

The state is asking Vermonters to help by reporting these fraudulent calls through the AG’s website. You will need to provide the day and exact time the call occurred, your phone number, the number that called you, and what was said. They say the process should take no longer than five minutes.

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