Unsolicited robocalls have become a serious epidemic lately. A recent study shows that the number of spam calls has been rising across the country at an alarmingly rapid pace. People in the U.S. receive an average of just under 19 spam calls every month. Yikes!
That’s why the government created the Do Not Call registry years ago. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. The robocalls just keep on coming.
Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to do something about it. But does its new proposal go too far?
FCC’s plan to stop robocalls
Spam doesn’t just come to our phones in the form of calls anymore, we’re also getting tons of spam text messages. That’s why the FCC is taking aim at stopping them in their tracks.
The government agency made two proposals this week to help stop spam texts and calls. The first would create a database of phone numbers that have been reassigned to different people. In theory, this would stop businesses from mistakenly calling or texting numbers they don’t have permission to.
The second could be a little more controversial. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to classify text messaging services as information services, instead of telecommunication services.
This would give mobile carriers more latitude in blocking text messages that they feel are spam. Some people are worried that this would open a whole can of worms. For example, a mobile company could block texts that aren’t actual spam but instead are against its political or other beliefs.
Pai said, “Combatting robocalls is our top consumer protection priority, and these proposals are a significant step forward in that effort. Today, I am calling on the FCC to take additional measures to combat these calls and also to prevent a flood of spam robotexts from clogging Americans’ phones. Americans rely on and trust text messaging. That’s why we need to act to prevent a deluge of spam texts and scam messages.
“I’m also proposing new rules to help reduce robocalls to reassigned numbers by creating a database that will help legitimate businesses stop calling those numbers. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these proposals and continuing our fight against unwanted robocalls and robotexts.”
Ways to help stop robocalls:
If you’ve been getting an outrageous number of robocalls lately, and let’s face it most of us have, here are some ways to help stop them.
Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers — This is the most obvious and simplest precaution. Let unknown calls go to voicemail.
Subscribe to the Do Not Call Registry — This is one of your first moves to make. Click here to get your number into the National Do Not Call Registry. After your number is on the registry for 31 days, you can report unwanted sales calls.
Hang up — If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify and target live respondents.
Block specific numbers — If you’re constantly getting spam calls from the same phone number, block it. Most mobile carriers these days give you the option to block callers. With most carriers, you just tap on the information icon next to the number in your recent calls list and you’ll see a block this caller option. If you don’t see it, check with your mobile company to find out how it’s done with them.
Use a call blocker — Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one. You can also visit the FCC’s website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls. (Click here to learn how to block specific phone numbers.)
Stopping all unwanted calls is nearly impossible. Even after you’ve registered your number with the Do Not Call Registry, you may still receive calls from certain organizations. Charities, political organizations and telephone surveyors are allowed to call, for example. Click here to see FTC rules on who may still call you.
However, taking the steps in this article will help cut back the number of spam calls that you receive. It could save you from falling victim to a scammer. Remember to share this article with your friends and family so they can block those annoying calls, too.
Bonus: Free podcast on robocallers’ latest schemes
In this Komando on Demand podcast, you’ll learn how to protect yourself and your family from falling victim to these tricky and downright dangerous phone calls.