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Plagued by Robocalls? Help May Be Coming

The volume of calls is now at about 5B a month
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2019 3:00 PM CDT
In this May 4, 2018, file photo a man talks on the phone in a hallway adorned with the palm tree-printed wallpaper at a hotel near the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – New measures by US regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received across America. The FCC said Wednesday that it will vote in June on whether to let wireless carriers block spam calls by default, which should mean that more spam calls are blocked. Right now, customers have to take the extra step of requesting tools from their carriers or downloading apps from other companies to help them weed out most unwanted calls, reports the AP. The rising volume of calls in the last few years has put pressure on Congress, regulators, and phone companies to act. The volume of calls has risen to roughly 5 billion per month, according to call-blocker YouMail, from 2.7 billion in November 2017. Phone-industry group USTelecom called the FCC's proposal "big and bold."

Many robocalls are not scam calls, though, but calls from debt collectors and telemarketers selling insurance, cruises, and the like. It's not clear if carriers would automatically block those calls, too, an expert on robocalls tells the AP. There are also bills in Congress addressing the robocall problem. A widely supported, bipartisan Senate bill would require carriers to verify that a number popping up on your caller ID is real. 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 industry is working on deploying this long-in-the-works system, but it's been a slow process. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has threatened regulatory action if it's not done this year.

(Read more robocalls stories.)

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