Phone Companies Have the Power to Stop Robocalls

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Consumers ask us all the time: Do phone companies have the technology to stop robocalls?

We’re here to say that yes, they do.

Consumers Union conducted research and interviewed a number of telecommunications experts and innovators to find out what phone companies can do to stop robocalls. And today, we released a new report that takes a look at these options.

The report explores three existing technologies that top phone companies could pursue to help consumers block unwanted calls: smartphone apps, Nomorobo, and Primus Canada’s Telemarketing Guard. It also looks at a technology that does not yet exist, but which phone companies could develop in the short term: cloud-based, third-party filters that could screen calls at the “gateway” between the phone lines that place calls and those that deliver them.

While it would be more difficult to offer advanced call-blocking tools to traditional landlines than Internet-based or wireless phone lines, Primus Canada’s Telemarketing Guard could theoretically work for all three types of service, according to the company, as could the advanced “gateway” filters.

Moreover, phone companies could do more to address call spoofing that makes robocallers so hard to thwart. Call spoofing is when a caller uses an application to show a false number on Caller ID– for example, from a trusted government agency or from a local area code — in the hopes of tricking the recipient to pick up.

While long-term solutions to spoofing are in the works, phone companies could take simple steps now to help reduce spoofing by scammers.

Take a look at the report – and take action! Over 550,000 consumers have signed onto Consumers Union’s End Robocalls campaign to push AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink to offer free tools to block unwanted robocalls. Please sign the petition here!

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