FCC Releases Second Annual Consumer-Oriented Robocalling Report

The general public has more ability than ever before to detect and block robocalls, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a report its Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released on Tuesday. However, the agency’s press release noted, robocalls still pose a “substantial consumer problem,” despite efforts to stem the tide, like those embodied by FCC orders enacted late last year.

According to the report, the number one source of civilian complaints to the FCC is robocalls. In addition to their obnoxiousness, the report noted that the unwanted calls also threaten public health by disrupting emergency medical communications and 911 call centers.

The report, entitled “Call Blocking Tools Available to Consumers,” compiles information on a number of issues like the availability and efficacy of consumer call blocking tools, the results of Commission actions on illegal calls, and the impact of call blocking on emergency services and public safety, the FCC said. The research concluded that improved call blocking tools and labelling services are available through both voice service providers and third-party analytics companies, who use “new data to continually update their analyses to detect robocalls.” 

In addition, voice service providers and analytics companies say fewer calls wrongly identified as spam or fraud have been blocked in error. For its part, the FCC “has taken a multi-pronged approach that includes aggressive enforcement, consumer education, and creating an effective regulatory environment that enables and encourages phone companies and others to proactively stop unwanted robocalls from ever reaching customers.” 

Part of the FCC’s efforts include implementing the STIR/SHAKEN protocol, caller ID verification technology designed to make illegal spoofing less effective, permit law enforcement to single out criminals more easily, and enable voice service providers to identify spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach subscribers. Last month, the FCC sped up the implementation process in hopes of making small providers abide by the protocol sooner.