Robocalls continue to plague millions of Americans. But now robocallers have a formidable new enemy.
Or should we say, enemies? The attorneys general of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have reached deals with the nation's largest mobile phone carriers to fight robocallers.
Keep reading to find out what deal has been struck and how it will affect consumers. We also have a list of tips to protect you from these invasive calls.
States, mobile carriers join forces to battle robocalls
Five billion. That's how many robocalls from scammers and legitimate companies are made each month. Americans are so sick of getting them that 70% of us are not answering our phones if we don't recognize the number.
Now, a new deal has been struck between major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon and all the states' attorneys general that could make a huge difference for consumers. One part of the agreement calls for mobile carriers to integrate call-blocking and call labeling technology into a dozen phone networks' existing infrastructure.
Best of all -- it's free to customers. The phone carriers also agreed to begin implementing STIR/SHAKEN technology that would authenticate phone numbers through a digital signature.
Carriers currently are working on getting STIR/SHAKEN to work across all mobile carriers' networks.
During a press conference announcing the pact, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said, "Thanks to these prevention principles, our phones will ring less often."
We'll see. And if you're skeptical about whether this pact will reduce robocalls, you have good reason to be. Scammers always find new ways to beat the system so we shouldn't get our hopes up too high with these changes. Continue to stay vigilant, as your protection is ultimately up to you.
Federal government lags behind in robocall epidemic
In recent months we've seen federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) take small stabs against robocallers.
In June, the FCC ruled that consumers do not have to grant permission to carriers to block scam numbers. However, the ruling did not mandate that carriers offer call-blocking services for free or make the service a default option on phones.
In March and June, the FTC shut down a total of eight major robocall operations. In what's dubbed Operation Call it Quits, the FTC has joined forces with federal, state and local law enforcement to shut down scam robocallers.
While we wait to get the government and carriers moving forward, there are ways to protect yourself.
- Reject anonymous calls automatically
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry list
- Set your phone on do not disturb
- Use carrier tools to block unwanted calls
- Use the best apps to block robocalls
- Block individual phone numbers
- Some phones block robocalls automatically
If you take these steps we hope you can reduce the number of scam robocalls that you get every day. It's a frightening robo world out there, be careful.
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