FCC wants to crack down on robocalls

AP Photo

NEW YORK — It’s estimated that by early next year, nearly 50 percent of all the calls you get on your cellphone will be robocalls. More than five billion robocalls were made last month alone. Now, the FCC is demanding telecommunications companies lay out their plans to meet new standards, so that calls can be identified and stopped.

T-Mobile’s programs to stop robocalls begin in a lab packed with computer servers.

“This is where we test everything that we put into our network.”

From that noisy room came T-Mobile’s Scam ID program. It alerts customers to problem calls they won’t want to pick up.

Company vice president Grant Castle believes T-Mobile is ahead of its competitors and the robocallers.

“Every time we make an improvement the scammers make a change so it’s an arms race to see who can trick who.”

Customers can use the Scam ID feature to screen unfamiliar calls, or block them completely. The company said they are also launching a new app called Name ID that will allow users to choose the type of call they want to block; everything from nuisance calls, to political and charity calls.

But the FCC is also pushing companies to meet new standards known by the acronym “Shaken/Stir”. They would allow carriers to verify calls with a digital fingerprint, to show that the person making the call and the person receiving the call are who they say they are and not a scammer trying to “spoof” or imitate a phone number.

T-Mobile said it’s ready and other major carriers said they’re working on it. But others apparently are not: in letters, the FCC asked them why not and gave all 14 companies until Monday to detail their plans to the agency.

But in order for that plan to work, all carriers have to get on board.

CBS News reached out to all 14 phone carriers that received a letter from the FCC. The majority responded and said they will tell the FCC Monday that they are preparing to adopt the new call authentication system in 2019.

Whether the carriers will all be able to deploy the system in 2019 remains to be seen.

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