Robocalls Are A Public Nuisance

Do you agree that robocalls are a public nuisance? If so, I have a bit of good news. The Supreme Court just upheld a 1991 law that prohibits nearly all non-emergency robocalls to cellphones without the consumer’s consent.

Robocalls Are A Public Nuisance

The Supreme Court struck down a provision that allowed robocalls to go out to millions of consumers, who have loans that are guaranteed by the Federal Government. Therefore, consumers who have a government-backed mortgage or a federal student loan will no longer be harassed by debt collectors, if their payment becomes delinquent.

This loophole allowing debt collectors to robocall consumers, without their consent, was originally slipped into a 2015 budget bill.  According to an announcement from Consumer Reports, “The Supreme Court has now ruled that those collecting debt, on behalf of the federal government, cannot get preferential treatment when it comes to robocalling.”  You can read more about this new ruling here   

MEANWHILE

On another front, consumers will hopefully benefit from an anti-robocall bill that Congress passed in December 2019. The bill requires phone companies to help stop ‘spoofed’ scam calls before they reach your phone. Telecommunications companies were given the authority to use technology to proactively identify and block robocalls. However, the phone companies have until June 2021 to comply.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stepped-up enforcement power to levy heavy penalties and fines against robocall violators.

Unknown Robocaller
Don’t Answer The Phone!

MOST ROBOCALLS ARE ILLEGAL

Robocalls are automated phone messages that provide a call back number or ask you to press a number on your phone, to be connected to someone. Don’t take the bait!  Never press any numbers and never call them back, no matter how urgent the message sounds!

Robocallers use internet technology referred to as ‘spoofing’ to hide their true location. Spoofed calls are numbers that can mimic your bank, the IRS, or even your own phone number.

When these calls are placed, the recipient’s Caller ID displays whatever phone number the robocaller wants you to see on your Caller ID. It’s best to just let unknown callers go to voicemail. If you happen to pick up the phone, just hang up!

Yes indeed, robocalls are a public nuisance, but I’m optimistic that by next summer, we should see a swift decline in robocalls. Fingers crossed!

Read a prior Article I wrote about Robocall Scams

Here’s another prior article I wrote about the new bill regarding Robocalls

ANTI-ROBOCALL BILL

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!

Anti-Robocall Bill

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.

Consumer Reports Anti-Robocalls Bills

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.

Robocaller
DON’T ANSWER IT! SEND IT TO VOICEMAIL

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.