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March 23, 2017

Helping Wireless Consumers Fight Back Against Robocalls .

Helping Wireless Consumers Fight Back Against Robocalls

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That call. You’re in the middle of an important meeting or you just sat down to dinner. A phone number you don’t recognize. You pick up, only to hear a robotic voice trying to offer you a no-strings attached free vacation or scam you into disclosing personal data or bank information.

A robocall—irritating, intrusive, and often illegal.  And chances are, if you’ve received one, you’ve received several.

While some automated calls—from your child’s school or your pharmacy for instance—are useful, many robocalls are a consumer pain point.  In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission received over 215,000 consumer complaints about them—and that’s only the number of people who filed a report.

The wireless industry has been fighting back, collectively stopping more than a million robocalls from reaching consumers every day.  We work closely with law enforcement officials to stop bad actors, and we also arm consumers with the tools, resources, and information to help stop robocalls. For instance, consumers can take advantage of:

  • Tools: Wireless carriers and mobile device manufacturers have developed free or low-cost tools that include features like call blocking.
  • Apps: In addition to built-in device features, consumers can choose from over 85 call-blocking apps for the major mobile operating systems.
  • Consumer tips: Our website features step-by-step instructions on how to use these tools as well as how to add your wireless phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry and file a complaint with the FTC or FCC.  In addition, the FCC has a dedicated webpage that links to helpful consumer resources for combatting robocalls on our website and our members’ websites.

Wireless technology is always evolving, however, and so are the systems that generate robocalls, using new malicious techniques in an attempt to outfox consumers, industry efforts, as well as federal laws like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Truth in Caller ID Act.

One growing issue is spoofed robocalls—where the displayed caller ID is fake, hiding a caller’s true identity. Beyond the annoyance factor, bad actors use spoofed robocalls to run scams—pretending to be from the IRS or Social Security Administration to try and get financial information from their targets.

That’s why we support the FCC’s action today, proposing to give carriers the ability to block spoofed robocalls.  Specifically, the FCC has proposed new rules that allow carriers to block calls when a subscriber requests that calls from that number be blocked, as well as blocking calls from invalid phone numbers, numbers not allocated to a voice service provider, and numbers not assigned to a subscriber.

We look forward to helping the FCC work through these complicated issues and developing the right solution to help consumers fight unwanted calls.

Today’s FCC action stems from recommendations made by the industry-led Robocall Strike Force.  Bringing wireless carriers, providers, handset manufacturers, and standards setting organizations together, the Strike Force works to accelerate efforts to develop new solutions to combat robocalls. CTIA backs the Strike Force’s efforts to design and implement tools to authenticate legitimate calls and help trace the origins of robocalls.

We look forward to continued partnerships with policymakers and other stakeholders to combat unlawful robocalls, while ensuring consumers continue to receive the calls that they want.

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