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FCC May Allow Carriers to Block Robocalls From Spoofed Numbers

The FCC later this month will consider a proposal that would allow carriers to block robocalls that have a spoofed caller ID. If approved, the rule would be a major boon for consumers who are hit with robocalls–many of which are part of scams.

Caller ID spoofing is a key part of many phone scams, and the tools that make it possible are easy to obtain and use. Scammers have the ability to spoof virtually any phone number when calling a victim, making their calls seem legitimate. Some carriers will identify numbers that have blocked caller ID, but blocking calls with spoofed numbers is a different animal.

Consumer advocacy groups have been pushing for carriers to block these calls, and now the FCC is moving in that direction. On March 23 the commission will hold an open meeting at which it will consider a proposed rule to do block robocalls with spoofed caller ID information.

“One particularly pernicious category of robocalls is spoofed robocalls—i.e., robocalls where the caller ID is faked, hiding the caller’s true identity. Fraudsters bombard consumers’ phones at all hours of the day with spoofed robocalls, which in some cases lure consumers into scams (e.g., when a caller claims to be collecting money owed to the Internal Revenue Service) or lead to identity theft,” the notice of proposed rule making says.

The proposal comes as the commission is working with an industry led Robocall Strike Force, headed by AT&T, that has been investigating solutions to the problem. In October, the strike force said that some carriers had been testing a Do Not Originate list that had shown a lot of promise in reducing robocalls. the DNO list marks certain numbers as only being able to receive calls, so any call that seems to originate from those numbers can be considered spoofed and be blocked.

In its meeting later this month, the FCC will address the DNO list specifically.

“Proposes to adopt rules that providers may block spoofed robocalls when the subscriber to a particular telephone number requests that calls originating from that number be blocked (sometimes called ‘DoNot-Originate’). This proposal builds on a clarification made by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau in 2016 at the request of the industry’s Robocall Strike Force,” the proposal says.

The commission also will consider the idea of allowing carriers to block calls from spoofed numbers that have never been assigned to anyone and how to deal with calls from spoofed international numbers.

Image: Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC By license.

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