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FCC Rule Cracks Down on Foreign Robocalls

May 19, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
FCC Rule Cracks Down on Foreign Robocalls

WASHINGTON — Americans will soon get fewer robocalls from abroad because of a new Federal Communications Commission rule

“Robocalls are aggravating. What is worse is when we crack down on these junk calls, the scam artists behind them find new ways to reach us. Increasingly, that means robocalls are coming in from overseas,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel during Thursday’s meeting of the FCC. “In fact, one study suggests that last year as much as two-thirds of this … may now come from abroad. So today we get tough on international robocalls.”

Rosenworcel and the three other FCC commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to require more stringent caller-ID for foreigners placing calls to people in the United States.

So far this year there have been about 43,800 robocall complaints made to the commission, said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. Robocalls are the most complained about to the commission, Rosenworcel said.

That’s why there are new rules targeting phone companies that facilitate robocalls.

The new rules for “gateway providers” ensure the phone companies that help connect phone calls from outside of the U.S. to residents use the stringent STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication protocols. The rules also require phone companies to stop illegal robocalls or face harsh consequences.

Previously rules targeted specific technology used for robocalls. However, these rules target the IP address of internet calls, which show where a call is coming from in the world. 

These rules are intended to “close a loophole bad actors constantly use,” Starks said.

If a phone company doesn’t comply with the rules, it could be blocked by phone networks and ultimately not be able to operate, according to the new rules.

“If you are a repeat offender you need to have your control and influence limited,” Starks said.

For more than a year the commission’s enforcement bureau has been issuing cease and desist letters to phone companies that have been allowing too many robocalls. The commission has also joined with 36 states and Washington, D.C., to investigate illegal robocalls, according to a statement.

The crackdown on these calls doesn’t end there. Rosenworcel also asked for more resources to combat the issue.

“We also need more tools from Congress to catch those behind these calls, including the ability to go to court directly and collect fines from these bad actors — each and every one of them,” Rosenworcel said.

Madeline can be reached at maddie@thewellnews.com

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