FCC Wants Phone Providers to Get Aggressive With Robocalls

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The FCC currently promises certain protections from unwanted calls. Private robocallers, for example, must have prior consent; and folks can add their name and number to the Do Not Call registry. But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to do more, and is urging phone companies to offer call-blocking services to customers.

The chairman sent letters to the CEOs of major wireless and wireline carriers, as well as intermediary firms that connect robocallers to phone companies, "reminding them of their responsibility to help facilitate the offering of blocking technologies," Wheeler wrote in a Friday blog post.

He also requested faster development and deployment of technical standards that prevent the spoofing of Caller ID numbers, making blocking more effective.

Citing a Congressional directive to protect and empower the American people, Wheeler boasted about the 13 formal enforcement actions brought by the FCC to combat unlawful robocalls since 2013.

"But consumers would rather not receive unwanted calls in the first place, making pro-active intervention preferable to after-the-fact enforcement," he said.

Wheeler also talked up a recent proposal that would limit the number of debt-collection calls allowed per month, ensure the right person is contacted, and allow consumers to end communication.

All of the companies contacted by the FCC were asked to respond within 30 days with concrete and actionable solutions.

"Here's the bottom line," Wheeler said. "Robocalls are currently the No. 1 complaint the FCC receives from consumers. Whenever and wherever Congress and the courts give us the authority, the Commission will push hard for strong, pro-consumer limits to robocalls and other unwanted calls."

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