PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) -- They’re annoying, often illegal, and they flood our phones.

Last year, Americans received an estimated 45 billion robocalls. The FCC recently launched a robocall response team to ramp up efforts to put a stop to these unwanted calls, and there are changes in the works that could help consumers feel safer answering the phone when it rings, according to Patrick Webre, the agency's chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

"Robocalls are our top consumer complaint, and therefore they are our top consumer priority," Webre said.

Many robocalls are spoofed, which means they look like they’re coming from a legitimate caller you know and trust. To stop it, the FCC is requiring all voice providers to use caller ID authentication.

"That will allow consumers to have a level of trust when they receive a call, on the caller ID, a level of trust that the number that’s on their phone is actually the number that’s calling them," Webre said.

Providers will be required to implement the technology by June 30.

"There won’t necessarily be a magic switch where anybody can flip where caller ID authentication will not work one day and then will work perfectly the next day," Webre told 3 On Your Side. "Many of the larger providers have implemented this across a lot of their networks, but phone networks are very complex and very intricate, so it is going to take a while."

In the meantime, to block unwanted calls, the FCC suggests consumers:

  • Contact the phone company and ask about call blocking and labeling programs they already have
  • Consider downloading a free or inexpensive robocall blocking app
  • Check phone settings for built-in call blocking features

The FCC has also strengthened its rules to allow phone companies to use analytics to block unwanted calls.

In March, U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, along with Sen. Susan Collins, reintroduced a bipartisan bill, the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act, which would increase fines for spoofed robocalls from $10,000 to $20,000 per violation.

 

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