FCC set to let phone companies block more robocalls

FCC proposes new rule that would give carriers new tools to block robocalls

Voice service providers may offer opt-out call-blocking programs based on any reasonable analytics created to identify unwanted calls and will have flexibility on how to dispose of those calls, such as sending straight to voicemail, alerting the customer of a robocall, or blocking the call altogether.

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.

"Many voice providers have held off developing and deploying call blocking tools by default because of uncertainty about whether these tools are legal under the FCC's rules".

Currently, consumers often must elect to use carriers' robocall-blocking tools, some of them costing a monthly fee, which means "fewer people are using these services", Pai said. A bipartisan bill in the Senate, the TRACED Act, would force carriers to adopt a system in 18 months that verifies that the number that pops up on your caller ID is real.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls". T-Mobile in January launched a caller verification feature based on the SHAKEN/STIR framework, and Verizon followed suit in March. Companies would also allow consumers to block calls from unknown numbers themselves.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to give telecommunications firms the ability to automatically block potential robocalls without consumer consent.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed new rules to combat robocalls.

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This new measure will be considered by the full Commission at its June 6 Open Commission Meeting.

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

That marks a 46 percent increase from 2017, when users logged about 18 billion robocalls. The FCC said its own consumer help line was being used to make illegitimate outgoing calls by spammers.

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

Of the spam calls received, a lot of them were 'general spam, ' followed by fraud, telemarketers and robocallers.

The FCC has not yet released the specific details of its proposal - in particular, what kinds of guidelines the agency will provide companies for determining whether a call is "wanted" or "unwanted".

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

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