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Are You Tired Of Robocalls Yet?

You should be – it’s estimated that Americans received more than 26 billion automated calls last year alone.

To be clear, that’s not the usual rate either, but rather, a 46% increase from the year before. Robocalls are annoying enough in any dose, but they’re only becoming more common. Nearly half of all calls placed to Americans in 2019 are expected to be spam.

That’s why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to do something about it.

Robocalls

How Can The FCC Fight Back Against Robocalls?

The FCC has brought forward a new proposal to help lower the rate of robocalls that reach Americans’ phones, by giving phone companies the ability to block them by default. This measure, if approved, would take effect later in 2019, and permit phone companies to stop robocalls from ever reaching their customers.

This is not the first attempt to lower the rate of robocalls – phone companies have been employing a range of anti-spam techniques for some time now, but often haven’t put them into full effect over concerns that they may be considered illegal. This proposal would give full power to phone companies to use these means without fear of recrimination.

“Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them.”

How Do Phone Companies Stop Robocalls?

Phone companies have been using a number of different strategies and associated technologies to fight back against robocallers, including:

  • Verizon’s Call Filter App
    Free to download for iOS and Android, this app offers auto-blocking for identified fraudsters, warning banners for suspicious calls, and a simple spam reporting tool. AT&T’s Call Protect is similar.
  • T-Mobile Scam ID & Scam Block
    Scam ID warns users about suspicious calls, and Scam Block (free, requiring activation) automatically rejects calls from those numbers.
  • Google Pixel Personal Assistant
    Google’s flagship phone offers users the capability to have their voice assistant answer and screen suspicious calls for you. It then makes a transcription of the call to help users decide whether or not they should answer.
  • Human Verification
    T-Mobile and Comcast Xfinity have announced that they would begin verifying that calls placed between their networks are actually made by humans.
  • STIR/SHAKEN
    Many major telecom companies have contributed to the development of this anti-robocall technology, which is designed to stop fraudsters that engage in spoofing (appearing as though they’re calling from a legitimate number).

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Robocalls?

As with any social engineering technique, the key is that you can’t automatically trust what you’re being told. If you receive a call claiming to be from your bank, be skeptical, and think before you act.

Call or visit the appropriate party directly before providing any sensitive information, or taking any action. No matter how urgent the call may sound, you should always take time to verify what you’re being told, and who is telling it to you.

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