FCC set to let phone companies block more robocalls

FCC Chairman Pai

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed granting AT&T, Verizon and other telecom carriers clearer powers to block suspected spam calls from ringing consumers' phones, a move that comes a month after robocallers dialed Americans almost 5 billion times, according to one industry estimate.

Pai said phone companies have been hesitant to deploy automatic robocall-blocking tools because it's unclear whether they're legal under the FCC's rules.

The proposal would establish call blocking services as a default setting for consumers.

The tool would not block emergency calls. Carriers would be able to do this by default, so users wouldn't have to opt in to call-blocking programs. The volume of calls has risen to roughly 5 billion per month, according to call-blocker YouMail, from 2.7 billion in November 2017.

The new rule would make it easier for carriers like AT&T and Verizon to automatically sign up customers for call-blocking technology. Consumers will also be able to opt-in to receive calls only from phone numbers in their contacts list. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) knows that rampant robocalls are a problem in this country and made a proposal this week that could help out.

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New measures by US regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received in the U.S.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed new rules to combat robocalls.

Verizon Communications Inc praised the FCC for "taking aggressive action and exploring new tools to protect consumers".

The U.S. telecommunications regulator is expected to approve Pai's proposal at its June 6 meeting.

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed "call authentication system" aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. Carriers would also have flexibility in how they dispose of spam calls, such as sending the calls straight to voicemail, alerting the customer of the robocalls, or blocking the calls altogether. A January report from Hiya, a caller ID service, said there were 26.3 billion robocalls made in the United States in 2018.

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In its analysis, Hiya found that people received an average of about 10 spam calls per month.

What's more, as people in the US get a barrage of spam calls, many are increasingly choosing not to answer the phone at all.

Many robocalls are not scam calls, though, but calls from debt collectors and telemarketers selling insurance, cruises and the like.

Of the spam calls received, majority were 'general spam, ' followed by fraud, telemarketers and robocallers.

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