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article image'Robocall' blocking technology needed, FCC tells phone companies

By Karen Graham     Jul 23, 2016 in Technology
In an open letter to the CEOs of major phone companies on Friday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pressed them to take immediate action to make "robocall" blocking technology available to the public at no charge.
Without a doubt, the biggest number of consumer complaints received by the FCC are gripes about robocalls and telemarketing calls, many of them often being nothing more than scams. Actually, the FCC gets hundreds of thousands of complaints every year about robocalls and unwanted text messages.
The thing is, the FCC has repeatedly said that wireless and landline phone providers are allowed to offer robocall-blocking services to providers, but a number of providers have told their customers, incorrectly, that they don't have the authority to offer this technology.
To make things perfectly clear to everyone concerned, Consumerist is reporting that Chairman Wheeler has sent the letter, explaining once and for all that there are no regulatory roadblocks keeping them from helping their customers stop annoying and often illegal automated and prerecorded robocalls.
“Nothing in the Commission’s rules and orders prevents [phone companies] from offering customers robocall blocking technology,” writes Wheeler in letters to the chief executives at AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. “I strongly urge you to offer your customers robust call blocking at no cost.”
Reuters is reporting that in a blog written by Wheeler on Friday, he said he wants answers from the companies "within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues."
Wheeler also wants the telephone companies to do more to ensure that incoming calls are not "spoofed." This is when a caller falsifies the identification information that is transmitted to your phone's caller-ID display to hide their identity.
And there's more. Those calls that appear to come from outside the United States, you know the ones we're talking about, well, the FCC wants the phone companies to allow providers to block calls from overseas. Wheeler also wants the phone industry to create a "Do Not Originate" list that would allow government agencies, banks, and healthcare providers, among others, to register their phone numbers.
For the record, the FCC has brought legal action to bear in 13 cases involving robocalls since 2013. In 2015, a company in Florida was fined $3.0 million for illegal calls promoting travel deals.
More about Fcc, Robocalls, industry inaction, at no charge to consumers, Phone Companies
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