Cellphone companies can now automatically block robocalls

Robocalls may be a thing of the past because of a ruling made Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission. Providers could now automatically block unwanted calls so they would never appear on your phone.

In 2018, there were more than 230,000 complaints of unwanted calls, including robocalls and telemarketing calls, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Those were just the ones that were reported– the number is believed to be much higher than that.

But with the FCC vote, more consumers could be protected from receiving these unwanted calls.

Fake prizes, vacations or claiming that you owe on your taxes are some of the many scams. The Federal Trade Commission says nearly 650,000 scams made over the phone were reported to the agency last year.

“Your credit card has been tagged for something. Give us a call. And I like, ‘Hmm, no,'” said Amanda Zimmerman, a cellphone user.

But she doesn’t fall for it.

“I get one or two a week. When I don’t recognize the number, I just don’t answer it and then I go in and just block that caller so they don’t get to call again,” Zimmerman said.

Under the ruling from the Federal Communications Commission, her cellphone provider could automatically block these calls from ever reaching her phone.

“The FCC has made clear that phone companies can begin offering these services to consumers as soon as the companies are ready to roll out the necessary technology,” said Ajit Pai, chairman for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Customers would have to be informed that the calls are being blocked and have the option to allow the calls. The technology would have to allow for emergency calls or alerts. Those would still go through to the phone user.

“Consumers could ask their carrier to block all calls that come from people who aren’t on their own phones contact list,” Pai said in a YouTube video.

This could be especially useful for the elderly, who might fall victim to phone scams.

“If you set up a list of phone numbers for your grandmother or grandfather, they could know that whatever calls they do get are from trusted people,” Pai said.

You could as well the next time you pick up the phone.

The chairman of the FCC said that the technology that could block these calls is still being developed by carriers. But the ruling is meant to encourage providers to develop the technology as soon as possible.

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