BACKGROUND: Despite FCC and other protections to help consumers avoid unwanted robocalls, consumers still get an unacceptably high volume of calls that can annoy or defraud. One particularly pernicious category of robocalls is spoofed robocalls—i.e., robocalls where the caller ID is faked, hiding the caller’s true identity. Fraudsters bombard consumers’ phones at all hours of the day with spoofed robocalls, which in some cases lure consumers into scams (e.g., when a caller claims to be collecting money owed to the Internal Revenue Service) or lead to identity theft. On March 23, 2017, the FCC proposed new rules to facilitate voice service providers’ blocking of illegal robocalls.
- The proposed rules would expressly authorize carriers to block calls with spoofed caller ID associated with phone lines that do not actually dial out, without running afoul of FCC rules requiring carriers to complete all calls.
- A test of the concept, conducted by the industry-led Robocalls Strike Force with the FCC’s permission, reduced IRS scam calls by about 90 percent in the third quarter of 2016.
- The proposed rules would also expressly authorize carriers to continue to block calls upon the request of the subscriber to an originating number, like IRS lines not used for outbound calls. Additional proposed rules would also authorize providers to block spoofed robocalls when the spoofed caller ID cannot possibly be valid or are not in use by any subscriber.
- The Commission action also seeks comment on how to address spoofed calls from international locations, where scammers often hide to avoid U.S. legal processes and where calls can be made from real numbers that would not be valid in the U.S.
- The public may comment on the proposed rules until July 3, 2017 with reply comments due on July 31, 2017.
- Additional links that are helpful in learning more about the Illegal Robocall proceeding: