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Fighting Back on Robocalls


The first meeting of a new Robocall Strike Force, led by AT&T’s Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, at the Federal Communications Commission is a step forward for consumers as industry convenes experts to stop the flood of unwanted and illegal computer-generated phone calls. AT&T recently launched the Strike Force to help find new industry-wide solutions to this annoying, widespread problem. USTelecom members Verizon and CenturyLink have joined the campaign.

The mission is to speed the development and adoption of tools and technologies to stem the flood of robocalls, and advise the FCC on how it can help in this ongoing battle. Stopping the calls isn’t as easy as it might seem. Signing up for the national “Do Not Call” list can stop a few calls, and many phone providers allow customers to block calls from anonymous numbers and offer call-blocking services such as Nomorobo.

But customers still report getting the calls. Why? Scammers are often a step ahead. They can evade blocking technologies by “spoofing” phone numbers so they look like legitimate – even familiar - numbers and they can maneuver around black-listing services that stop calls from being connected from suspicious phone numbers.

That’s why USTelecom agrees with the FCC and others that an industry-wide effort involving all stakeholders is needed to combat the problem.

Already, USTelecom convenes regular meetings to share information on suspicious calling activities in an effort to stop scammers from annoying customers with robocalls. Expanded information sharing – and the development of new technologies that ensure scammers can’t hide behind fake numbers – could also help cut down on the number of robocalls.

One challenge facing the industry is that some of the tools available work better on newer VOIP lines instead of the traditional copper-wire networks that still connect millions of Americans. As the U.S. transitions to IP-based phone networks, it will be easier to help those consumers block these calls.

In the meantime, see USTelecom’s information on how strategies for consumers to help cut down on the number of calls. CTIA, which represents the wireless industry, also has a helpful website that provides robocall blocking apps for mobile phones here.

Putting an end to annoying robocalls is a goal our industry is firmly committed to achieving.