FCC Urges Phone Companies to Take Action On Mass Calls


Tom Wheeler FCC

In spite of many regulatory changes over the years, the FCC says that US telephone companies have yet to block unwanted mass texts and calls.

According to Tom Wheeler, the 31st chairman of the US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC), telephone companies in the United States should take swift and concrete action to block the massive amount of fraudulent calls that takes place.

The FCC’s proposal was first issued in June 2015, confirming that communications firms can indeed block such calls before they reach customers – but only if they are asked to intervene. Oftentimes, these unwanted calls are launched by automated systems, which means the telecom industry can easily intercept them.

However, phone companies have previously resisted taking any sort of action, as some hid behind the claim that they have no the legal right to block any calls on the customers’ behalf.

That didn’t stop Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, to send a letter to all the major US communications companies, including Verizon, AT&T, Frontier Communications, Bandwidth.com, Level 3, Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile, saying that automated calls are still happening “due in large part to industry inaction.”

While the FCC does not force phone companies to offer blocking and filtering services, the regulator has urged them to provide these services for free.

According to Wheeler’s recommendation, the telecom industry should come up with a “Do Not Originate” list to include numbers that are regularly used by scammers. This list, which would be open to government agencies, healthcare providers, banks, and others to register, would make it easier to stop nuisance calls.

In a recent blog post, Wheeler wrote: “In regard to the Commission’s expectations that carriers respond to consumers’ blocking requests, I have sent letters to the CEOs of major wireless and wireline phone companies calling on them to offer call-blocking services to their customers now – at no cost to you.”

In response, he expects the companies to prepare actionable plans within 30 days. CTIA, the wireless trade association, is open to work with the FCC to address this problem, said Tom Power, general counsel at the organization.

Hundreds of thousands of complaints are filed each year in regard to automated calls and text messages.
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