Published on July 2nd, 2021 | by Bibhuranjan


Is This The End of Robocalls?

Nobody likes receiving a robocall. Your phone rings, you don’t recognize the number that’s calling you, but you answer it anyway because it might be something important. Instead, it’s a robotic voice telling you that you might be entitled to compensation for an accident you never had. Alternatively, maybe you’re eligible for a tax refund, or you might be able to make a mis-sold insurance claim. Very occasionally, your robotic caller might put you in touch with a human being. But, even if they do, it’s unlikely they’ll have anything to say that interests you.

Why are Robocalls unpopular?

Robocalls are a bane of modern life. Given the fact that they’re an obvious scam and they work on almost nobody, many of you might wonder why the companies that use them do it at all. The answer lies in the word “almost” when we’re talking about “almost nobody.” To the callers, we’re all just a massive online slots game. There’s no expectation that you’ll win anything on most spins when you’re playing online slots – the point is to keep playing and spinning until you do. When a win actually comes, it makes the failed spins worthwhile. That’s the mechanism that keeps online slots players coming back to Rose Slots CA, and it’s also what keeps robocalls companies in business. So long as that one person in every hundred thousand or so falls for the scam, they’ll make enough money to keep calling the rest of us.

Because of that handful of gullible or vulnerable people, everyone else has to put up with the relentless calls even though we shouldn’t have to. In theory, nobody should be able to make robocalls. It’s a criminal offence in most countries. In the United States of America, robocalls have been banned for years. That doesn’t stop them from happening, so we have to take matters into our own hands by blocking and reporting them every time they occur. If all of this sounds depressingly familiar to you, we might have good news. If all goes well, robocalls will cease to be an issue for the majority of people as of the end of June 2021. We’ve heard all this before when it comes to bans, legal action, and other enforcement methods, but there genuinely might be a good reason to be hopeful this time around.

End of Robocalls?

On June 30th, a deadline for all voice providers in the USA to implement a new type of technology to combat robocalls will expire. Anyone not compliant with the technology after that point is liable to be on the receiving end of punishments, including fines and further sanctions. The objective of the technology, which has the James Bond-inspired name of Stir/Shaken, aims to eliminate robocalls altogether. It probably won’t succeed in that aim – stopping the problem altogether is probably impossible because rogue firms always find a way around legislation – but it should result in a noticeable reduction. Comcast, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T have already agreed to implement the technology ahead of the deadline. If you’re a customer of any of those companies, you should already have seen the number of robocalls you receive beginning to subside.

The scale of the problem posed by robocalls is difficult to overstate. They’ve been the number one consumer complaint within the industry for several years. They have been listed as the top priority of the US Federal Communications Commission for just as long. On average, consumers in the US have to collectively put up with more than fifty billion robocalls every year. YouMail, a company that monitors robocalls, estimates that more than twenty million such calls have been placed in the first half of 2021. These numbers apply only to the United States of America. While a global number isn’t available, it’s reasonable to assume that well over one hundred billion scam calls happen every year. From fraudulent loans and non-existent credit card offers to fake debt collectors and fabricated vacation deals, the scammers will try everything to get access to your money or your information. Robust action is years overdue, but it will be better late than never if the Stir/Shaken system works.

It’s hoped that the technology is sophisticated enough to distinguish between scam calls and useful calls. Some doctors surgeries use robocalls to inform customers that prescriptions are ready to pick up. Other companies use them legitimately to provide customers with helpful information. Legitimate companies shouldn’t be troubled by the technology because it simply requires network carriers to verify the origin of calls. If the source is legitimate, the call can be made. If it isn’t, the call should be blocked before it even reaches the customer.

The law that introduced Stir/Shaken is the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, also known as “TRACED,” which was signed by then-President Donald Trump at the end of 2019. It gave network carriers and voice providers eighteen months to adopt the measures specified in the law. Those eighteen months are now up. Some carriers requested an extension to the deadline for a variety of unconvincing reasons, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The last of the appeals were denied by the FCC in March this year, and the deadline applies to everybody.

If the measures aren’t adhered to, the first thing that a company found to be in violation of the law will receive is a cease-and-desist letter. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, the next action will be a fine. In the past, heavy fines have been levied against companies found to be guilty of making calls. One company in Texas was fined $225m last year for making roughly one billion unsolicited calls. In the future, the fines will be levied against providers as well as the firms responsible. This should give providers a greater incentive to act against the robocall companies that use and abuse their networks.

This might not be the only law that comes into force in the near future. If Democrats have their way, a new act that would introduce prison terms of between one and three years for the owners of companies found to be responsible for placing malicious calls may be signed before the end of 2021. If Stir/Shaken doesn’t persuade rogue companies to change their ways, perhaps the prospect of a prison term will. The battle against robocalls hasn’t been won yet, but the tide definitely seems to be turning in favour of consumers.

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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