Consumers Union to Attend Robocall Strike Force at the FCC on Friday

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The FCC announced this week that the “Robocall Strike Force” – the industry task force created at the request of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler – will meet this Friday, August 19, at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, DC. The task force will bring together representatives from across the industry to formulate a plan to address the unwanted robocall problem. Chairman Wheeler has called on the participants in the Strike Force “to produce conclusions within 60 days.”

In recognition of the central role that your End Robocalls campaign has played in bringing the robocalls issue to the forefront, Consumers Union has been invited to attend the meeting, and we will be keeping a close eye on developments. We’ll continue to push the phone companies to offer consumers real relief from robocalls that they deserve.

We invite you to participate as well. While much of the meeting will be closed to the public, opening remarks by Chairman Wheeler, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and AT&T CEO and Chair of the Strike Force, Randall Stephenson, will be livestreamed by the FCC, beginning at 10 am ET. You can check it out here. If you have any problems with the livestream, feel free to contact the FCC at 1-888-225-5322.

AT&T announced the creation of the Strike Force earlier this month, after Chairman Wheeler sent letters to the major phone companies and gateway providers, “strongly urg[ing]” them to take swift action to provide free robocall-blocking tools to their customers. Chairman Wheeler also asked them to take additional steps to combat robocalls, including implementing call verification standards to address Caller ID fraud.

In response, AT&T announced the creation of the Strike Force, and promised to “conform” to emerging call verification standards, crack down on scam calls originating overseas with a “Do Not Originate” list, and implement other solutions “where viable.” However, they not provide a timeline or further specifics about these commitments. While as yet there are few specifics about what the Strike Force seeks to achieve, according to AT&T, the goal is to “accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions to abate the proliferation of robocalls and to make recommendations to the FCC on the role government can play in this battle.”

In an interview released in May of this year, AT&T’s Stephenson claimed that they had to wait on FCC rulemaking before offering their customers effective call-blocking tools. In response, a representative from the FCC explained to the Consumerist that “The FCC has made clear that there are no legal obstacles to carriers offering consumers Robocall-blocking services. The Chairman has repeatedly called on carriers to begin offering these services. We strongly encourage them to do so.”

We’re beginning to see some real change in the fight against robocalls, and it’s all thanks to you. But we need your continued support to hold the phone companies accountable. Click here to become a part of the End Robocalls campaign!

 

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One response to “Consumers Union to Attend Robocall Strike Force at the FCC on Friday”

  1. Telephone companies should be forced to credit their customers’ bills a dollar ($1.00) for every telemarketing call they get. Our phones should be for people we want to talk to, not for crooks trying to rip people off, especially senior citizens.

    We can’t answer our phone anymore if we don’t recognize the number since our phone records show we get over 100 telemarketing calls a month. And that’s despite the fact that our number has been on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry since 2003. Most telemarketers don’t leave messages. If we ever do pick up, often no one is on the line because their robot-dialers call more people than they can handle so they always have new potential victims ready when they finish their previous calls.

    Telephone companies have the technology to stop this, but won’t because they’re making too much money from telemarketers. That means our service is worth a lot less than what we have to pay for it. Therefore the telephone companies should be required to reimburse us for the nuisance they cause by enabling telemarketers to harass us.

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