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BOSTON -- Starting Wednesday, Americans can expect to receive fewer annoying, illegal robocalls. That’s the deadline the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed on most phone providers nationwide to install Caller ID verification to confirm whether calls on their network are actually coming from the number on display.
Some smaller phone companies and those with traditional, non-VoIP phone lines have a grace period. Regardless, all phone companies must, under penalty of perjury, notify the FCC by Wednesday where they stand on protecting their customers from illegal robocalls.
With the new caller ID technology, called STIR/SHAKEN, con artists should no longer be able to spoof phone numbers to pose as, for example, the IRS or a big bank or your neighbor. Illegal robocalls cost Americans $10 billion a year in fraud and $3 billion a year in wasted time, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FCC. Americans this year have received 4 billion robocalls a month -- twice as many as they did five years ago.
In response, Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director for MASSPIRG Education Fund, said:
“June 30 is an important day in consumer protection history. The FCC action to thwart robocalls will rank up there with laws guaranteeing consumers access to their credit reports and eliminating abusive credit card practices.
“Robocalls affect all of us. Thousands of people fall for scams each year that start with an illegal robocall and spoofed phone number. An elderly man in Cleveland lost $124,000 last month to a robocaller impersonating Amazon. These kinds of heartbreaking cons happen every day. Those of us who don’t get ripped off still have to deal with annoying calls about expired car warranties or unwanted health insurance. Or we don’t answer our phones at all.
“The FCC for years has been trying to squash illegal robocalls, mostly unsuccessfully. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The FCC is done asking nicely or urging or begging phone companies to fight robocalls. It’s the law now. Phones are critically important in our society. When our phone rings, we should be able to trust the Caller ID on the display, like we used to. That day is coming back.”
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