Comedian John Oliver launched a prank campaign to stop robocalls

John Oliver sets out to stop robocalls
Image: YouTube LastWeek Tonight

Everyone is familiar with robocalls. Hearing an automated voice saying you’ve won a free cruise or can find relief from credit card debt is a nearly universal experience. In fact, this inescapable nuisance has caused many Americans to simply not answer the phone unless they know who is calling.

So, why is no one doing anything about it? As it turns out, comedian John Oliver thinks the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) isn’t doing their part to stop these annoying calls. With a little help from his tech guy, Oliver has launched a campaign to bring robocalls to the FCC’s attention.

Every 90 Minutes

For five FCC commissioners—Geoffrey Starks, Brendan Carr, Michael O’Rielly, Jessica Rosenworcel, and Ajit Pai—robocalls are now a personal problem. Every 90 minutes, these individuals receive an automated call from Oliver asking them to spur the FCC into action.

The call opens with a snide greeting and then proceeds to say, “Congratulations! You’ve just won a chance to lower robocalls in America today.” At the end of the call, the officials are treated to a lively bagpipe blast and reminded that they will be called again in 90 minutes.

The FCC is the regulating body responsible for addressing robocalls in the United States. However, many, Oliver included, feel that they are not doing enough to stop the problem. In 2017, it was estimated that Americans received 30.5 billion robocalls. That’s almost 100 calls for every adult in the country.

How to Stop Robocalls on Your Own

For those who don’t have faith in the FCC, there are ways to stop robocalls manually. Though the Commission claims they are doing the best they can, tackling the matter personally gives people a faster solution.

The first way to cut down on robocalls is by blocking individual numbers one by one. Anyone seeing the same number calling over and over can try this as a potential solution. All you have to do is go into your recent calls list, find the offending number, and select the “block.”

A more all-encompassing option is to put mobile carriers to work. Most major providers offer some manner of protection from annoying callers. Unfortunately, many of them charge an extra fee for the spam call blocking. Still, for some people, $3 per month may be well worth it to relieve the irritation of robocalls.

Finally, mobile phone owners can turn to third-party programs for help. Apps like Nomorobo and Robokiller offer subscription services that block intrusive calls with constantly updating a list of scammers and telemarketers. As thousands of suspect numbers join the list daily, these apps block incoming calls before customers ever see their screens light up.

These days, no one is safe from robocalls. However, thanks to celebrities like Oliver, the issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Thankfully until the FCC takes action, consumers have a few protection options at their disposal.