If you get more robocalls than real calls, you may appreciate the Federal Communications Commission’s new ruling passed Thursday. Effective immediately, phone companies will be permitted (and encouraged) to automatically block robocalls.
Until now, consumers could sign up for robocall blocking, but phone companies didn’t set this up as a default option for all. Under the new rule, phone companies can block unwanted calls automatically, as long as their customers have been informed of the practice and have a chance to opt out. The companies can also offer services that block calls from any number that doesn’t appear on subscribers’ contact lists.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explained in a Youtube video that curbing scam robocalls is his top consumer protection priority. “Almost every American with a phone, even in the FCC, gets them,” he said, with an expression that indicated that perhaps most of the calls have been coming to him directly and he’s just tired of this crap.
Pai also said that phone companies are expected to introduce improved caller ID technology later this year, which would make it even easier to discern a spam call from one that you might actually want to receive.
One aspect of the ruling that’s unclear is what, if anything, it will cost customers to have robocall blocking automatically enabled for their accounts. Pai has previously commented, “We certainly encourage companies to offer this for free,” but that has all the force of a gentle breeze.
All four major carriers offer a paid version of its call blocking features, which could very well become a staple on your monthly bill if you don’t opt out.
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all make it clear that these services are available for post-paid customers only.
Of course, beyond the big guys, there’s a whole host of apps you can download and methods you can employ to battle robocallers yourself. In the meantime, keep a watchful eye on your phone bill over the next few months for any changes in default service offerings and billing increases.
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