[HOWTO] Stop Annoying Robocalls
If you ever called your phone carrier to demand it block all robocalls, you probably heard the excuse, “We can’t legally do that.” That’s a lie, and the FCC is tired of being its scapegoat. Here's what you and the FCC can do to help stop annoying telemarketers and robocalls...
FCC Urges Telcos to Provide Anti-Robocall Tools
“Nothing in the Commission’s rules and orders prevents (phone companies) from offering customers robocall blocking technology,” writes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in letters to the CEOs 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.”
Legitimate (but still annoying) robocalls and automated text messages have virtually disappeared thanks to the federal Do-Not-Call List law and other laws that prohibit robocalls to customers who have not given explicit consent to them. Yet complaints to the FCC about robocalls continue to climb, indicating that most robocalls now come from illegal operators, often scammers.
But carriers resist blocking any calls, citing concerns (but no real-world examples) that they might get sued for blocking legitimate calls. They also argue that they shouldn’t have to do any blocking until new Caller-ID authentication standards are adopted. “That is not a valid excuse to delay” deployment of existing blocking technology, says Wheeler in his letter.
Wheeler wrote a separate letter to backbone Internet service providers such as Level 3 and Bandwidth.com. Backbone providers provide interconnections between ISPs’ networks, and also connect Internet phone service companies to mobile and landline networks.
In that letter, Wheeler urges the Internet companies to make it more difficult for scammers to fake (“spoof”) Caller-ID data as it moves from network to network, making it appear (for example) to potential victims that some scammer in Nigeria is their bank’s customer service department. To that end, Wheeler proposes a “Do Not Originate” list.
Other Tech to Stop Robocalls
“The Do-Not-Originate list would allow domestic entities that are regularly impersonated by caller ID spoofing, such as government agencies, financial institutions, or health care facilities, to register their outbound numbers in a database,” explains Wheeler. “If a call from one of these numbers reaches a gateway from outside the United States, it could be marked as suspicious or blocked, likely significantly reducing fraud.”
In other words, if “the Mayo Clinic” tries to call you from Russia instead of Minnesota, it’s probably a scammer spoofing the Mayo Clinic’s Caller-ID info. Such calls could be blocked, or at least tagged so they can be traced if necessary.
Consumers can add their signatures to petitions that will reach telco CEOs, demanding the anti-robocall tools that their carriers can and should provide. Optionally, one can sign up to receive email updates on this battle from the Consumers Union “End Robocalls” campaign.
Tools You Can Use Now
Nomorobo is a popular solution to block annoying robocalls and telemarketers. But the free service only works for those who have VoIP (Internet-based) phone service. Nomorobo also has paid options to block calls on smartphones.
But there's also a free option for mobile phones. TrueCaller is an app for Android or iPhone that pops up when a call comes in, and flags numbers that are known to be scammers and spammers. You can block unwanted calls easily.
Google Voice is the best solution I know of for good old-fashioned copper-wire landlines. When you forward your landline to a free Google Voice number, calls are automatically answered, voicemails are transcribed into text, then emailed to you. Of course, you can answer calls from numbers that you know are real people. Google Voice blocks many known phone spammers, but you can selectively silence or block calls from as many numbers as you like.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Nov 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [HOWTO] Stop Annoying Robocalls (Posted: 29 Nov 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved