Commission targets bad-faith phone numbers

Endless Spoof

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) was hearing about it – 200,000 times a year.

That is the rate of consumer complaints to the FCC about unwanted calls, including robocalls – calls made from automated phone banks. But if you think this complaint rate is astounding, it pales in comparison with the cause: The Commission cites studies that claim consumers receive about 2.4 billion unwanted calls every month. And as every year goes by, robocallers become more technologically sophisticated – more skilled at hiding their identity and appearing to be legitimate callers.

The FCC cites, for example, scam callers that use non-outbound numbers at the IRS to dial potential victims. The victims unfortunately believe the calls are legitimate, based on their caller ID.

New Rule(s)

The Commission is trying to make a dent in the sheer volume of unwelcome phone calls with a new ruleset allowing phone companies and other service providers to block robocalls from “numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls.” The Commission carved out an exception to the call completion rules to allow this type of blocking, which is rarely permitted under the law.

As of Nov. 16, 2017, providers are allowed to block different types of numbers, including numbers placed on a “do not originate” list by the owner, numbers not currently used or subscribed, and impossible numbers – numbers that are assigned nonexistent area codes, for instance.

The Takeaway

Providers need to read the new order and understand it thoroughly. While it allows blocking that will be beneficial to the end consumer, it also suggests that providers should provide a simple and straightforward way for owners of legal numbers to report and address accidental blocking.