Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley wants to stop federal funds to cellular telephone companies if they don’t do more to stop robocalls and has asked the Public Utilities Staff to investigate whether telephone companies profit from robocalls.
Presley wants the PSC to take stronger action to stop the calls by requiring cellular telephone companies to offer free robocall blocking technology and develop ways to stop “Caller ID Spoofing” where telemarketers steal phone numbers to make calls or risk losing PSC-approved federal funds.
“Mississippians are being bombarded with robocalls and it’s gone from being an annoyance to being a scourge and it’s an invasion of privacy to Mississippians,” said Chairman Presley. “I want to see more action and all hands on deck to stop as many as these robocalls as we can. Mississippians are sick of it, I am sick of it and I want to enlist the telephone companies in this fight.”
Chairman Presley said they are looking at this as a comprehensive effort to stop this problem in Mississippi and to do all they can to help. He added that some of the phone companies are already engaged in doing a lot, but he wants to make sure that every telecommunications company is doing all that they can.
“I’m fishing hard and we are doing all that we can to get this problem stopped and we need the phone companies help,” said Chairman Presley. “They own the systems so we need them in the fight.”
The PSC is charged with approving federal funds from the Universal Service Fund/Connect America Fund. Last year, cellular companies received over $109 million in state-approved federal funds
“No one could do more to stop the scourge of robocalls than cellular companies. The companies could and should be doing more. Some have apps, some don’t but all of them should explain to the PSC what they are doing to stop these calls before we approve one more penny of federal money. We should require them to create free robocall blocking technology and develop a plan to stop Caller ID spoofing along with other efforts. If these companies aren’t willing to help, they should not get public money,” said Chairman Presley. “We also need to know if these companies are profiteering off of these calls that is why I am asking the Staff to look into this matter.”
In an effort to punish telemarketers the PSC has released a first-in-the-nation No-Call app for smartphones that allows customers to get on the state’s Do Not Call list and report complaints from the convenience of their mobile phone.
Furthermore, just this year the Commission aided in introducing legislation to create a private right to sue telemarketers, though the bill failed to make it to the Governor. In addition, the PSC just last month fined 24 telemarketers for violating the no call law.
Presley encouraged Mississippians to download the PSC’s smartphone app, which can be found by searching “MS No Call” in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Marketplace. Also, landline phones can be registered at www.psc.state.ms.us or by calling Commissioner Presley’s office at 1-800-637-7722