When was the last time you answered a call from an unknown number?
Robocalls have gotten incredibly bad in the US with untold millions of people plagued constantly by pesky calls from scammers.
So far, the Federal Communications Commission has arguably done little to make a dent in the number of automated calls Americans receive. According to the latest numbers, Americans were hit by almost 46 billion robocalls in 2020 alone.
Now, the FCC says it's finally taking action to push back against robocalls. In an announcement, the regulator asked cellular network operators to tell them about the free robocall blocking software they provide to consumers.
The FCC also revealed it had sent two cease-and-desist letters to robocall companies as well as implementing the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act), which was passed by Congress back in 2019.
That Act gives the FCC power to put a stop to "unwanted calls or text messages" from "unauthenticated" numbers by handing out fines and other penalties. The Act also acknowledges that scammers tend to skirt existing laws, and requires regulators to regularly report back to Congress, as The Register points out, to gauge the laws' effectiveness.
"No one wants more unwanted robocalls in their life," acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the statement. "I’m proud that we continue to find new ways to use all the tools at our disposal to make it clear to illegal robocallers that their days are numbered."
Despite the issue being at the forefront of consumer complaints to the FCC, robocalls have only become an even bigger problem in recent years.
The Trump administration's FCC chair Ajit Pai, famously a former telecom executive himself, did little to tackle the issue during the last four years. With mounting pressure in 2019, Pai eventually made a big showing of using his power to "help consumers block unwanted robocalls," according to a press release at the time.
But his actions — or lack thereof — ended up being a letdown, with the FCC going as far as asking consumers to foot the bill for its anti-robocall initiatives.
It's still far too early to tell if the TRACED Act will motivate the FCC to start doling out fines and collecting them. But with a new commissioner ready to take over, the regulator has the opportunity to finally jump into action.
READ MORE: After years of dragging its feet, FCC finally starts tackling America's robocall scourge [The Register]
More on robocalls: Your Phone Carrier Can Now Automatically Block All Robocalls
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