Finally, an Anti-Robocall Bill
As we celebrate the New Year, we can add another thing that is cause for celebration. Last Thursday, lawmakers passed the Anti-Robocall Bill! It now awaits the President’s signature to become law.
“The U.S. Senate today sent Americans a holiday gift on everyone’s list: stopping the plague of robocalls,” said Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who introduced the legislation with Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican.
All I can say is: Its About Time!!!
Americans received a staggering amount of robocalls in 2019. There were 49 billion calls placed. More robocalls have been placed in the first 10 months of 2019, than in all of 2018!
It’s been a five year battle to take back our phones from these incessant robocallers. The new law will hopefully put a larger dent in the number of calls received. It will decrease millions of ‘spoofed’ robocalls and crack down on spammers who intentionally violate the rules against calling us.
The organization, Consumer Reports (read more here) played a big role in the movement to make the Anti-Robocall Bill finally become a reality. They were instrumental in rallying millions of consumers to send emails, sign petitions, initiated letter writing campaigns and they even held a consumer lobby day.
GOOD NEWS & BAD NEWS
The Good News: The bill will make it easier for consumers to identity robocalls using a number-authentication system. The Bad News: It will still take awhile for the number of intrusive calls to decline.
The Anti-Robocall bill requires all telephone systems in the U.S implement a coordinated authentication methodology to improve the accuracy of the caller-ID displayed on our phones. In other words, the bill requires phone companies to offer free call-blocking apps that will verify that the number calling you is real. That’s been an issue, because fraudsters now use fake ‘spoofed’ numbers to look as though they’re coming from the IRS or others to trick you.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that phone companies can now block unwanted calls without getting customers’ permission first, which could help increase the use of phone-blocking apps. The agency has said it expected the deployment of a new phone-number system to begin this year. Many major phone companies have already begun rolling it out, but to work well, all carriers must adopt it.
The Anti-Robocall bill also strengthens enforcement tools against robocallers, by giving the FCC more opportunities to fine them. It also brings together different government agencies and state attorneys general to help combat the problem.
The phone industry trade group, USTelecom, applauded the bill’s passage, saying it “will supercharge” the fight against robocallers.
I have written prior articles about Robocalls that you can read here and another one here. My advice is simple. Never believe what you see on your caller-ID, only answer calls from numbers you recognize, hang up on robocalls or let them go to voicemail.
Wishing a Happy 2020 to all my readers.