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FCC Takes on Illegal Robocalls in New Report

FCC Issues Report on Illegal Robocalls

Report Details Efforts to Combat Illegal Robocalls & Looks to Possible Next Steps

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced the release of the agency’s first ever report on illegal robocalls.  Under Chairman Pai, combatting illegal robocalls and malicious spoofing has been the agency’s top consumer protection priority.  As the new report outlines, the agency has taken on this challenge with an aggressive combination of enforcement, policy and regulatory improvements, and partnerships with public and private stakeholders.

“No consumer wants to be bombarded by spoofed robocalls—they’re a waste of time at best and a scam at worst,” said Chairman Pai.  “As this report makes clear, we’re steadfastly focused on addressing this serious problem.  There’s no easy or single answer, but by using every tool in our toolbox, we are fighting against the onslaught of unwanted calls that has led a lot of consumers to stop answering the phone altogether.”

Policy – The Robocall Report discusses widespread implementation by providers of the proactive blocking of invalid, unallocated, and unused numbers—as authorized by a 2017 FCC rule change.  The report explains how hundreds of consumer-initiated call-blocking services have been developed and in many cases are available for free to consumers.  It reports on significant progress made toward caller ID authentication through adoption and implementation of STIR/SHAKEN standards by networks.  And the report explains agency development of a reassigned number database to help legitimate callers avoid accidentally calling the wrong consumer when trying to reach a customer who had signed up for the service.

Enforcement – The Robocall Report announces that the FCC has proposed or imposed monetary forfeitures totaling $245,923,500 against violators or apparent violators of either the Truth in Caller ID Act or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act since 2010—the vast majority of which has taken place in the last two years.  The report also explains FCC efforts to push for industry-wide cooperation with agency traceback efforts—a process by which government authorities can identify the origination of many telephone calls or text messages in order to catch those violating the law.  The report also highlights work done by the Federal Trade Commission under its authority, including 140 enforcement actions against companies and telemarketers for abandoned-call, robocall, and Do Not Call Registry violations, recovering $50 million in civil penalties and $71 million in redress or disgorgement.

Partnerships & Outreach – The Robocall Report outlines numerous online resources for consumers facing a barrage of illegal robocalls and spoofed calls.  FCC staff recently participated in two telephone town halls with AARP.  Staff has held in-person town halls across the country to help consumers at libraries and senior centers in rural areas.  The FTC has also engaged in similar outreach efforts.  Together, the agencies co-hosted a policy forum on illegal robocalls and an expo on technology used to combat scam calls.

Next Steps – Looking ahead, the FCC is aware that some network upgrades are necessary to fully implement and utilize caller ID authentication standards.  The Commission is looking for further opportunities to empower call blocking without blocking legal calls.  The agency and its partners are also interested in ways to expand consumer education and fraud prevention awareness programs to help American consumers.

To read the FCC’s first Robocall Report, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/document/report-robocalls

Source: FCC media announcement
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