FCC says voice providers must show how they’re trying to stop robocalls

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s said to be one thing all Americans can agree — they are sick of robocalls.

“It’s such a huge problem. Roughly half of all cell calls this year will actually be telemarketers or robocallers,” said Doc Compton, who has turned getting back at those who make illegal calls into a business.

Compton has spent several years putting together a kit that offers consumers ways to collect money from the companies that so freely tie up your phone with calls — many of them illegal.

“They cannot call you without your express prior written consent with an autodialer,” he says.

Despite that, calls persist, and this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it started a Robocall Mitigation database. It’s an effort to hold more providers accountable for not making continued efforts to stop calls from getting to consumers.

The FCC says voice service providers are required to inform the agency of their robocall mitigation efforts. It also indicates that as of September 28, 2021, phone companies must refuse to accept traffic from voice service providers not listed in the database.

“Protecting consumers from scammers that use robocall and spoofing tools is a top priority,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “To succeed, we not only need an all-hands-on-deck response from government, but we need industry commitment and focus.

“Our message to providers is clear: certify under penalty of perjury the steps you are taking to stop illegal robocalls, or we will block your calls.”

Susan Grant from Consumer Federation of American says robocalls are overwhelming.

“Since many of us are working from home these days, we’re experiencing just how overwhelming they can be,” she added.

Grant says there is technology available to companies to keep calls from getting to you.

“They do have the legal ability to block calls that appear to be coming from numbers that they’re not really coming from or that otherwise, they have reason to believe are being made illegally,” she said.

Grant says implementation of the technolgy seems frustratingly slow to many consumers.

While expense may be involved in making the changeover, especially for smaller companies, Compton believes money plays into this in another way.

“For the telecommunications companies to shut off robocalls they would effectively lose millions of dollars,” he said. “No one company is going to commit to doing that, and in so doing, lose millions of dollars if they don’t know, for a fact, the other companies are going to do the same thing.”

Compton believes the best way to affect the companies that make the calls is to hit them in the pocketbook. He says in 2018, he created a kit (for purchase) that he says can teach people how to take advantage of a federal law originally put in place for spam faxes. He says provisions in the law can extend to illegal robocalls.

Meanwhile, the FCC says providers need to comply with their directive on the mitigation database.

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