FCC approves rules to block robocalls from fake phone numbers

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TOPEKA, KS (KSNW) – A new rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission will allow telephone providers to block calls originating from certain fake phone numbers, a move aimed at reducing the number of robocalls consumers receive, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Schmidt, along with a bipartisan coalition of 29 other state attorneys general, submitted a comment letter in July in support of the new rules, which will allow providers to block several types of “spoofed” calls, in which a call appears to be coming from one number, but is actually coming from a different number. Scammers frequently use spoofed calls to hide their identity and to trick consumers into believing that their calls are legitimate. The use of these spoofed numbers is particularly prevalent in scams where the caller pretends to be calling from the Internal Revenue Service, law enforcement agencies or utility companies.

Under the new rules, providers would be allowed to block calls coming from invalid numbers, unallocated numbers, and numbers whose owners have requested they be blocked. For example, phone providers would be able to block a scammer that is using a telephone number that clearly can’t exist because it hasn’t been assigned.

“Combating the plague of robocall scams requires technological solutions,” Schmidt said. “The adoption of this rule by the FCC will allow telephone providers to block calls that are clearly fraudulent and protect consumers from these scam artists. This won’t solve the robocall problem entirely, but it should help.”

In its release announcing approval of the new rule, the FCC states that U.S. consumers received approximately 2.4 billion robocalls per month in 2016. In a pilot project using the new system that now is approved nationwide, the amount of IRS scam calls was reduced by about 90 percent, the FCC said.

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