An increasing number of annoying automated calls are coming from abroad. The FCC wants to do something to stop this.

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Ending robocalls is almost like a mole game: stop one or more pop-up windows. But Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, believes she has found a new hammer to stop illegal automated spam calls from overseas.

It proposes to fill a loophole in FCC regulations to require “gateway providers” to stop robocalls before they reach your phone. The agency will vote on the proposal, called the Target gateway providers to fight illegal automated calls, at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The proposed regulations would impose additional requirements on US-based gateway providers that forward voice traffic to other networks in the United States. These gateway providers, which are smaller, low-profile companies that transfer calls between networks, are often used by foreign crooks to disguise incoming phone calls to the United States. The new FCC requirements would ensure that gateway providers verify calls before forwarding them to other carriers in the United States.

“What we’re doing is saying that the premier gateway provider to the United States has certain responsibilities,” Rosenworcel said in a interview with CNET this month. “By imposing these requirements to identify where the traffic is coming from, we will stop illegal robocalls before they reach your home.”

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The proposal is the FCC’s latest effort to fend off those annoying robocalls. For years, the scourge of illegal and recorded spam calls plagued the public. This is the # 1 consumer complaint filed with the FCC and a absolute priority to commission. U.S. consumers received just under 22 billion automated calls in the first five months of the year and are expected to reach over 52 billion automated calls for the year, according to YouMail, a blocking company. automated calls.

These calls aren’t just annoying. Nearly 60 million Americans say they have been the victims of a phone scam in the past year, such as calls supposed to come from the IRS or a company asking for the expiration of a warranty on a non-existent car , according to a TrueCaller report, a company that creates a spam blocker and caller ID app. In total, Americans have been defrauded of nearly $ 30 billion by phone scams in the past 12 months, according to the survey by TrueCaller and The Harris Poll.

Beyond the American borders

The FCC has set a deadline of June 30, 2021, for all of the major voice service providers in the United States to implement a technology called Stir / Shaken. It is designed to verify that the number that appears on the caller ID is legitimate. As of Tuesday, any vendor that failed to comply with these mitigation efforts would be blocked.

While Stir / Shaken and other FCC efforts should at least slow the tide of these annoying calls, experts note that there is still a big problem with stopping calls from outside the United States, because American regulators and law enforcement are unable to enforce the United States. laws abroad.

“We hear from many national operators that an increasing number of calls are coming from abroad – the ones that look like scams,” Rosenworcel said. She added that it has been particularly difficult for US regulators and law enforcement to track down criminals in “jurisdictions where there may be actors who can run away before we can find them.”

She also noted that “difficult diplomatic relations between the United States and other countries can make it difficult to bring these bad actors to justice in the United States. But she stressed that the agency must “find ways to stop them.”

This is an issue that the experts agree that needs to be addressed. Efforts like Stir / Shaken have pushed more illegal callers out of the United States, said Clayton LiaBraaten, senior member of Truecaller’s advisory board.

Tackling the problem will require greater cooperation between international carriers and regulators, which LiaBraaten admits is no easy task. But he believes world leaders, international regulators and carriers around the world will be motivated to work together.

“It is a tall order to try to put in place a bunch of multilateral agreements,” said LiaBraaten. “But it’s not just an American problem. It’s a global problem. People are being defrauded all over the world.”

Ending the scourge of robocalls will also require coordinated efforts in the United States, Rosenworcel said. The FCC must work with other federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission as well as with state agencies like the offices of the Attorneys General across the country to bring enforcement action against those who break the law by perpetuating these calls, a- she declared.

Rosenworcel pointed out the FCC $ 225 million fine – the largest in the agency’s history – against Texas telemarketers in March. The companies have been accused of making around 1 billion automated calls to sell bogus health insurance policies. She said the FCC worked with the Ohio attorney general’s office on the case.

“With coordinated activity – with a lot more mallets slamming this problem – we’ll be more able to stop it,” Rosenworcel said. “Greater federal-federal and federal-state coordination will be necessary for us to be successful. “

“We are just getting started,” she added. “We have more work to do and we have new vigor to make it happen.”