FCC Seeks to Combat Robocalls with ‘Strike Force’

Robocalls – those annoying and sometimes invasive automated calls to both landline and cell phones – are the source of more complaints to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission than any other single entity. The FCC is fighting back with its newly-formed Robocall Strike Force.

Some of the best technological minds are working together in an effort to develop new ways to prevent robocalls from getting through to their intended targets, many of whom are people who have registered with the U.S. Government’s Do Not Call Registry. The registry, first available 13 years ago, serves as little deterrent to telemarketers and scam artists who through technological advances are able to bypass the system intended to keep them at bay.

The FCC has teamed up with more than 30 major communications and technology companies such as Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Google and Verizon, among others, to develop a solution to the robocall problem that the FCC has termed to be a “scourge.” This united front in the fight against robocalls is the Robocall Strike Force.

The Robocall Strike Force has a goal date of October 19, 2016 when it will report to the FCC with plans of its own to use technology to thwart unwanted robocalls.

The Magnitude of the Robocall Problem in the United States

Both the FCC and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission take consumer complaints about robocalls and both agencies are determined to find a solution to the increasingly massive problem. Between January 2016 and April 2016, 10 billion robocalls were received by people in the United States alone. A banner year for robocalls, in 2016, the FTC has already received 50 percent more complaints about the issue than in all of 2015.

In July 2016 alone, more than 2.4 billion robocalls were received, most of them to mobile phones, a number three times greater than in July 2015.

The unwanted calls, many of them scams, have come at a cost of $350 million to consumers.

What You Should Do If You Receive a Robocall

The FTC recommends that if you receive a robocall from any entity to whom you have not given written permission to call you, you should hang up the phone. Do not speak to the automated message or push any buttons, including if the robocall instructs you to push this number or that number to be removed from its calling list. These are often scams to identify your number as an active one and will only result in more such calls.

Don’t be fooled by Caller ID numbers that look legitimate — this is just one more tool in the scammers’ arsenal to win your confidence. If you ever have a question about the legitimacy of a robocall you’ve received, hang up the phone on that call, then look for the legitimate phone number of the agency or company and call it yourself to verify or rule out its legitimacy.

Ask your phone company or carrier what tools they have to stop robocalls and find out how you can make use of them.

These calls are not only annoying, they are illegal. You can report them to the FTC and the National Do Not Call Registry by filing a complaint with each as explained on the FTC website. The FCC is also taking consumer complaints about robocalls, which you can make, along with more consumer tips at the FCC website.

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