Help Coming on Blocking Robocalls in US

Robocalls Phone carriers could soon protect you from scammers under new FCC proposal

Major carriers and third-party app developers already offer free or paid call blocking applications, but they require customers to opt into the service.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday proposed allowing phone companies to block unwanted "robocalls" by default in a bid to reduce the flood of unwanted calls. That's when the government gave carriers explicit, although narrow, permission to block certain types of calls.

AT&T Inc said Pai's proposal "will increase the arsenal of tools available to combat calls that are not authenticated" but warned that "scammers continue to find new ways to reach unsuspecting consumers".

The FCC is not requiring that the call-blocking service be free, but it's expected that it won't cost consumers extra.

The idea put forward by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai - and pending approval from the agency's commissioners - encourages carriers to enable their anti-robocall technology by default, as opposed to waiting for consumers to turn on those features themselves.

Of the spam calls received, a lot of them were 'general spam, ' followed by fraud, telemarketers and robocallers. He said he anticipates that companies won't charge extra because it would cost less than the headache of dealing with robocalls and customer complaints about them today. He raised the threat of regulatory action "if the companies do not take the steps necessary to protect consumers".

People received about 60 incoming calls from 'unrecognized numbers or numbers not linked to a person in their contact list'. That means customers could tell phone companies that any number not on their list be automatically blocked. By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, Pai said, the FCC will give service providers the certainty they've been missing.

"There is no doubt that this can only help, that it's a good thing".

YouMail, a company that blocks robocalls and tracks them, estimated there were 4.9 billion unwanted USA calls last month after almost 48 billion in 2018, which was up almost 60% from 2017.

Congress expressed frustration with illegal robocalls in April and reintroduced bipartisan legislation called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Defense Act (aka the Traced Act).

Service providers have historically been reluctant to develop and deploy call block tools by default due to uncertainty regarding their legality under the FCC's rules.

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