The FCC’s Fight Against Phone-Y Calls

NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Your phone rings. You don’t recognize the number, but you answer anyway. “Hello, hello?” Then a prerecorded voice comes on the line: “Congratulations! You’ve been selected to receive at absolutely no cost to you free installation of aluminum siding for your home, along with a set of solar panels …”

By this point, if you have any common sense, you’ve already hung up. But you wonder: How could this happen since you’ve already signed up for the “do not call” list? And why are these scammers allowed to annoy me?

It occurs to you to follow the advice found on some websites. Because of caller ID, you can see the number the call came from, which could be in New Mexico, Tennessee, Wisconsin or any other state. So you call back to find out who really placed the call and to give them a piece of your mind. But it’s not meant to be. A voice simply says: “Sorry, this number is not in service.”

Chances are this has happened to you more than once, maybe even once a week, and you’d like nothing more than to stop it. And so would the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which vows to “facilitate blocking of illegal robocalls.” But it’s a slow process. “In terms of call authentication, we are still in the preliminary stage,” said FCC spokesperson Will Wiquist.

“Consumers still get an unacceptably high volume of calls that can annoy or defraud,” said an FCC press release. “One particularly pernicious category is spoofed robocalls where the caller ID is a fake, hiding the caller’s true identity.”

The FCC proposed new rules in March to stop this, and it’s nearing finished getting public comment on this. But in the meantime, thousands, and probably millions, of robocalls have been made, often from companies dedicated to doing just this.

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