No one likes being bothered with random calls from unknown numbers. That’s especially true when there isn’t even a human on the other line. Although robocalls aren’t a new phenomenon, they have started to become more problematic in recent years.
It’s easier than ever for scam artists and others to set up robocall generators. Likewise, massive data breaches have made it simple to find endless lists of numbers to call.
With all this in mind, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been tasked with counteracting robocalls. Like all government entities, it has taken its time to do so. Many people are frustrated with the fact that it seems like the agency isn’t taking action.
Although the FCC hasn’t yet put a dent in the volume of robocalls facing everyday people, things are starting to move in the right direction. According to a recent press release, the agency says that it is finally starting to act against robocalls and scam artists.
To do so, it is asking telecom providers to share the secrets of their robocall blocking software.
The latest numbers from the FCC estimate that some 46 billion robocalls were made in 2020 alone. That is a mind-boggling number. It also drives people to avoid answering the phone whenever they see a number they don’t recognize. More importantly, the rise in robocalls is associated with scams meant to separate people from their money.
Acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the release, “No one wants more unwanted robocalls in their life. I’m proud that we continue to find new ways to use all the tools at our disposal to make it clear to illegal robocallers that their days are numbered.”
“We want them to know that we’re advocating on behalf of all consumers everywhere to put an end to these calls,” she adds.
It’s unclear what the agency aims to achieve by asking telecom providers to share their robocall blocking software. However, it is better than nothing. For now, it appears that the efforts are limited to information gathering. The FCC notes that the data will “inform the upcoming report [the agency’s second Call Blocking Report].”
Meanwhile, the agency claims that it sent cease-and-desist letters to two companies partaking in fraudulent auto warranty and credit card debt schemes.
Two letters won’t be nearly enough to stop the flood of robocalls currently plaguing Americans. Once again, however, it’s nice to see the agency doing something.
Perhaps more important than anything else is the FCC’s progress with the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). The legislation was passed by Congress in 2019 but its effects are just now coming to light.
For one, it allows the FCC to hand out fines and penalties to companies that send unwanted robocalls or texts. It also mandates that regulators provide Congress with reports and information about how scammers attempt to subvert current laws. In other words, it should help keep the TRACED Act relevant.
As the FCC prepares to welcome its new chairwoman, it will be interesting to see how the agency handles robocalls. For the sake of everyone, we’ll hope that its stance is a strong one.