October 21, 2020
Help Stop Illegal Robocalls
The wireless industry is working hard to protect consumers from illegal and unwanted robocalls every day, but it takes a collaborative effort. The federal government, through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies and with support of Congress, is working daily with state officials and the telecommunications industry to do more to protect consumers.
Chairman Ajit Pai of the FCC made fighting unwanted robocalls the top consumer protection priority. Last year, the agency gave voice service providers more tools to protect consumers, including clarifying that providers can block illegal and unwanted robocalls by default, and it continues to work with law enforcement and industry stakeholders to trace illegal and unwanted robocalls to their origin. In support of the FCC’s efforts, the bipartisan TRACED Act, which was signed at the end of last year, importantly removed barriers and enhanced the FCC’s authority to stop illegal robocalls at the source.
At the same time, the FCC is focused on ensuring you receive legitimate robocalls such as those from your doctor, school district or bank. After all, it is helpful to know when a prescription is ready for refill, a school may have early dismissal or a reminder when a bill is due.
Recently, the FCC announced new rules designed to help protect consumers from illegal robocalls by using call authentication solutions, including a framework called STIR/SHAKEN, which enables voice service providers to create a digital fingerprint that will help them authenticate phone calls. The FCC also provided “safe harbor” protections for voice service providers to encourage more robust use of innovative call-blocking tools that use sophisticated analytics to target bad actors.
In addition to efforts at the federal level, last year attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington D.C. and 12 voice service providers committed to a set of Anti-Robocall Principles, establishing principles to guide providers in combating illegal robocalls.
What can the consumer do? You can also be a part of the solution by taking these steps to safeguard yourself from these unwanted calls. You can block the number using your mobile device or file a complaint directly with the FTC or FCC. There are even apps for your Android, iOS, or Windows device designed to block robocalls.
From COVID-19 to the 2020 election, timing for fear-mongering scammers has never been better. It is vital that we all work together to eliminate illegal robocalls. If you are the recipient of a scam call, it can be reported here.