By: Suzanne Potter, Public News Service
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Anyone with a phone is getting an early Christmas present this year – as the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Thursday to help stop those annoying robocalls.
The U.S. House of Representatives already gave near-unanimous approval to theTRACED Act– and President Trump has indicated he’ll sign it within a week.
Maureen Mahoney with Consumer Reports says Americans received an estimated 50 billion robocalls just last year.
“The robocall problem is out of control,” says Mahoney. “We hear from consumers all the time that these unwanted messages are ringing their telephones off the hook, you know. Many of them are from scammers who intend to do consumers harm.”
The Act requires phone companies to install technology to confirm the accuracy of caller ID information – and give customers the right to decline such “spoofed” calls at no extra charge.
Some phone companies are already using the so-called “STIR/SHAKEN” method to determine the authenticity of a caller ID. But Mahoney says a lot of carriers have been dragging their feet for years.
“This particular technology requires a lot of interconnection and cooperation from a number of phone companies,” says Mahoney. “So without a requirement, there just wasn’t enough incentive to implement it. So that’s why it’s really important that we have this legislation, to make sure everyone’s complying.”
Prior efforts to cut down on robocalls through the “Do Not Call list” failed, in part because so many calls come from scammers overseas, out of reach of the Federal Trade Commission.