New FCC Proposal Targets Illegal Robocalls

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The FCC is working harder to reduce the amount of robotic and spammy phone calls people are getting and has passed a new proposal that would allow phone companies to block unwanted calls in a more effective way. The new rule will provide phone companies with the ability to block robocalls that are using phone numbers they aren’t meant to be using. Spoofed phone numbers have allowed robocallers the ability to circumvent blocks by providing them a new number to call from. Often times these numbers aren’t traceable back to the caller making it harder to penalize the company or person that the call is originating from. When a robocaller spoofs a phone number they are using a different phone number than is assigned to their line, and if the phone company notices this, they can block them. Indicators of a spoofed number include robocalls coming from a number that has either not been assigned yet or is assigned to another subscriber.

This new proposal was voted on unanimously and FCC chairman Ajit Pai reported that the number one complaint to the FCC is robocalls. “We aim to take an important first step in ending the scourge of illegal robocalls,” Pai reportedly said. The new proposal is now available for public comment, and phone companies, as well as subscribers, are able to comment on the proposal. The Federal Communications Commission is interested to know what it can do in order to tackle the issues of robocalls originating outside of the U.S. as well as how to ensure that legal calls are not unintentionally blocked. Not all robocalls are illegal, and in many states, political and charity based robocalls are permitted. There are many ways of spoofing a phone number, including using VoIP services or something called an orange box. An orange box is a device that generates special signals in order to spoof caller ID information. The device poses as an official device that would be used by the phone company to send what is known as frequency-shift keying signals. It is estimated that towards the end of the year the results of the public comment period will be reviewed and one last vote will be held after amending the proposal using information obtained in the comments.