The FTC is supporting the efforts of the FCC to expand the definition of what constitutes and illegal call and make life more difficult for telemarketers and robocall operators.

In comments sent to the FCC this week, the FTC said that a proposed rule that would allow the establishment of a broad Do Not Originate list of numbers that should never be allowed to make calls would help protect consumers from the barrage of robocalls they receive right now. The proposed FCC rule also would carriers to block calls at the network level when a subscriber who owns the a given number asks for that action. Right now, carriers are required to complete all calls on their networks.

The FTC said in its comments that this rule would benefit consumers and also put some roadblocks in the way of robocall operations.

“Consumers will benefit from the widespread availability of provider-based call-blocking solutions. Congress has long recognized that consumers should be free from abusive telephone calls that impinge on consumers’ privacy, and better call-blocking technology would satisfy strong consumer demand for a solution to curb the barrage of unwanted calls,” the FTC comments say.

“Increased blocking of unassigned numbers could result in increased spoofing of valid telephone numbers.”

“In addition, widespread call blocking has the potential to drive up costs for illegal telemarketing operations and thus reduce the economic incentive to make illegal calls. Currently, the cost of placing large numbers of calls is so low that illegal calling operations can blast out millions of calls but still make a profit by making sales to the small fraction of call recipients who agree to purchase the purported goods or services offered. Call-blocking technology, if implemented on a widespread basis, could reduce revenues for illegal telemarketing operations, thereby making it more difficult to operate profitably.”

Part of the proposed rule also would allow for blocking of calls that include a spoofed caller ID signal. Fraudsters typically use this technique in illegal robocall operations and usually impersonate trusted numbers, such as those owned by government agencies or financial institutions. The FTC said in its comments that it supports this idea, but also warned of potential consequences.

“Increased blocking of unassigned numbers could result in increased spoofing of valid telephone numbers. When a scammer spoofs a legitimate telephone number, the consumer or business which subscribes to that number can be bombarded by return calls and complaints. Providers must be ready to assist individuals and businesses whose telephone numbers may be unlawfully spoofed by providing clear guidance regarding what to do if this happens and prompt action to resolve the issue,” the FTC said.

CC By-sa license image from Matt Brown

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