FCC Tells Phone Companies To Stop Robocalls Or Face Consequences
The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) has notified phone companies, including landline, wireless and VOIP, to start complying with new regulations to stop spam and robocalls or they will be blocked from the nation’s telecommunications grid, resulting in all of their customers being unable to make phone calls any longer. In the FCC’s new order, phone companies have until September 28 to begin blocking all incoming calls that are not in the Robocall Mitigation Database. The database compiles all phone companies and every legitimate phone number currently in use by each phone company. A carrier will be required to block an incoming call if that call can not be verified that it is actually coming from the number on the caller ID using the database.
The number of cease-and-desist letters sent out by the FCC to companies making robocalls has increased significantly as acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel had made stopping robocalls and spam calls a priority.
Phone companies have long had the ability to block an incoming call where the caller ID being sent does not match that actual phone number being used to call from, but have resisted wide spread blocking, instead offering limited tools to consumers to set up their own blocking and charging consumers for upgraded blocking tools. “The fact that they can offer these tools, either the free ones or the paid ones is a glaring piece of evidence that they can and have long been able to block unverified calls, says Robert Joiner, an advocate for greater FCC involvement in stopping the robocall problem.
An estimated 51 billion robocalls and spam calls were made in 2019, in 2020 the number dipped, but new data from the first quarter of 2021 show it is back up again.
In addition to every call placed being verified against the database, phone companies will be required to use the STIR/SHAKEN protocol that helps carriers handle calls from one carrier to the other, such as a Verizon call being made to an AT&T customer. Before AT&T can let the call continue, it must verify with Verizon that the number being sent out as the caller ID is in fact a valid number from a Verizon customer.