SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Robocalls are a constant annoyance for Americans, but a method to stop these calls is already underway and set for full usage starting Thursday.
As robocalls have grown more sophisticated and dangerous in the scams they pose, calls for a fix have grown louder.
Widespread use of the Federal Communications Commission's STIR/SHAKEN authentication will be required across most phone networks by June 30, according to the agency. The fix aims to require phone networks to sign off on a phone call's ID as legitimate by originating carriers and then validated by other carriers before reaching the intended person.
"STIR/SHAKEN digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is in fact from the number displayed on Caller ID," the FCC describes online.
For Americans, a solution couldn't come soon enough.
In a report released Tuesday, the FCC said that "robocalls remain a substantial consumer problem" and the top complaint. The agency said it received about 150,000 related complaints in 2016, 185,000 in 2017, 232,000 in 2018, 193,000 in 2019, and 157,000 in 2020. So far this year, the FCC has received about 14,000 unwanted call complaints in January, 15,000 in February, 18,000 in March, 16,000 in April, and 15,000 in May.
The Federal Trade Commission also receives these complaints, totaling about 480,559 complaints in March 2021 alone, the report stated.
"I’m encouraged to see the increasing availability of robocall blocking tools for consumers," said Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "Stopping robocall scammers from bombarding consumers and businesses takes a whole-of-network approach. Call blocking consumer tools are a critical part of this approach – along with STIR/SHAKEN implementation, network-level blocking, and ensuring gateway providers don’t let illegal robocall campaigns onto our networks. That said, we have to put consumers first, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to get these junk calls off our networks."
The report also found that many phone service providers and third-party companies today offer improved call blocking and labeling services, but not everyone has opted into using them. For more information on call blocking tools that are already available, visit the FCC's website here.