New measures could help thwart scam calls for robocall-plagued US

FCC's Ajit Pai wants to give phone companies more power to block robocalls

FCC's Ajit Pai wants to give phone companies more power to block robocalls

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 unwanted calls. The new rules would also allow carriers to help consumers to block calls not on their own contact list.

The rising volume of calls in the last few years has created pressure on Congress, regulators and phone companies to act. According to YouMail, a company that blocks and tracks robocalls, there were almost 48 billion unwanted calls in the U.S. in 2018 and an estimated 4.9 billion last month alone.

The latest proposal follows a 2017 ruling which allowed carriers to block some calls before they reach customers.

Of the spam calls received, a lot of them were 'general spam, ' followed by fraud, telemarketers and robocallers.

One interesting thing to note is that Pai's rules would ask, but not require, carriers to provide these services for free.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed new rules to combat robocalls. He said he anticipates that they won't charge extra because it would cost less than the headache of dealing with robocalls and customer complaints about them today. He raised the threat of regulatory action "if the companies do not take the steps necessary to protect consumers". "By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them", said Chairman Pai. That means a customer could tell his or her phone company, I only want people whose numbers I have in my phone to be allowed to get through. "My questions go to how much it helps", Saunders said, referring to whether consumers would be protected from unwanted debt-collector and telemarketing calls as well as scams.

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.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and exhausted of robocalls".

In May 2018, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed "call authentication system" aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system.

"We chose this industry-led path because it is the fastest way to help consumers, but I remain committed to taking regulatory action" if carriers do not act this year, Pai said in a statement on Monday.

The Senate bill would also give the FCC more power to fine the people responsible for spam calls and puts together federal agencies and state officials to figure out ways to pursue criminal cases against robocall scammers, not just civil ones.