It might be a little easier for providers of telephone services to block some of those annoying robocalls after the US Federal Communications Commission announced new restrictions. “In this Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we take another important step in combatting illegal robocalls by enabling voice service providers to block certain calls before they reach consumers’ phones,” the FCC said recently. “Specifically, we adopt rules allowing providers to block calls from phone numbers on a Do-Not-Originate (DNO) list and those that purport to be from invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers.” The number the call “purports” to be from is the number displayed on the Caller ID.
First, the FCC codified an earlier clarification that providers may block calls when they receive a request from the subscriber to which the originating number is assigned, i.e., a DNO request. The regulators also decided that providers may initiate blocking where the call purports to originate from a number that is unassigned. “Use of an unassigned number provides a strong indication that the calling party is spoofing the Caller ID to potentially defraud and harm a voice service subscriber,” said the FCC. “Such calls are therefore highly likely to be illegal.” The commissioners did not apply these rules to text messages.
The FCC also asked for public comment on potential mechanisms to ensure that erroneously blocked calls can be unblocked as quickly as possible and without undue harm to callers and consumers. It also requested input on ways it can measure the effectiveness of its robocalling efforts as well as those of private sector participants.
Robocalls have long been an annoyance to many US residents, but public animosity reached new heights in the wake of the collapse of the housing and mortgage market, particularly when sourced from overwhelmed mortgage servicers.