The end of robocalls may be coming soon

Your phone carrier might be able to save you from robocalls.

Those unwanted and annoying ghost dials from places as far as Lithuania to a number a few towns away could become few and far between after a vote was passed Thursday giving service providers’ the chance to fight against unwanted calls by default.

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The Federal Communications Committee passed a ruling allowing phone carriers to “aggressively block unwanted robocalls before they reach consumers.” Currently, phone companies have offered services to block these calls, but many require an out-of-pocket cost from the consumer. The FCC said in a press release that the ruling would allow service providers to block unwanted calls using call analytics, which is similar to how email providers fish suspect mail into your spam folder.

In the case that you actually want to continue to receive robocalls, providers must notify consumers of the change and give them an opt-out option for having the calls blocked, according to the FCC.

“The Commission is taking a major step forward in the fight against unwanted robocalls. And now is the time for telephone companies to take the baton,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “I commend those carriers who have stepped up to the plate and already indicated that they will implement call-blocking services by default. And I encourage those who haven’t already done so to listen to the American people and help to end this scourge.”

5 billion unwanted calls a month

Twenty-five billion robocalls have been placed nationwide so far in 2019, according to research. That equates to roughly five billion unwanted calls a month which is roughly 76 calls per person this year.

The ruling left the door open for companies to charge consumers for a call-blocking system, but the FCC hoped it wouldn’t go that direction.

“The  FCC is giving the carriers flexibility to block more robocalls by default.  At this point, the robocall epidemic is driven by scam and blatantly illegal calls, so anything we can do to have fewer of those is a good thing,” YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said in a statement to Ladders. “We would expect that carriers soon start taking advantage of this to block calls that look like they come from bad area codes, bad prefixes, and numbers that weren’t assigned to subscribers.   The bigger challenge will be going beyond those blatantly illegal calls to unwanted calls since people differ in what robocalls they want.”

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