Help Coming on Blocking Scam Calls for Robocall-plagued US

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.

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 nuisance calls from telemarketers and scammers.

But the FCC says many voice providers have held off on developing call blocking tools because it was unclear whether those tools were legal under FCC rules.

The FCC's proposal would allow phone companies to block "unwanted calls" by default.

Allowing the default call-blocking could significantly increase development and consumer adoption of the tools, Pai said. The industry is working on deploying this long-in-the-works system, called "STIR/SHAKEN", but it's been a slow process.

The ruling also notes that providers should clearly disclose to customers what types of calls are being blocked, and give them the option to opt out. Last month alone, almost 5 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. On average, that's about 15 calls for every American.

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

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The Federal Communications Commission is taking new steps at blocking pesky robocalls.

This comes as the FCC recently has been targeting robocalls with new rules and systems to block them.

Several existing applications also require a fee, but Pai says costs would be reduced under the new system because its more expensive to handle the ongoing flood of robocalls. Carriers like Verizon have anti-robocall tools for subscribers, but they're usually optional and need to be turned on.

The FCC's efforts come in response to a growing chorus of critics who feel the US government hasn't acted swiftly or aggressively enough to punish scammers who place unwanted calls or texts to consumers - or prod telecom carriers to improve their anti-robocall technology.

The number of unwanted robocalls skyrocketed 46% from 2017 to 2018.

People received about 60 incoming calls from 'unrecognized numbers or numbers not linked to a person in their contact list'. A big problem with robocalls is that many are "spoofed", or faked to look like they're coming from a number that matches your area code and the next three digits of your number, so you think it's a neighbor and are more likely to pick up.

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".

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