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[BOSTON, MA] -- A looming deadline should finally force all U.S. phone companies to take stopping robocalls seriously. However, only one-third of the largest mobile and home phone providers nationwide -- and a more disappointing percentage of smaller telecommunications companies -- have installed caller ID verification aimed at squashing illegal robocalls, even though most of those businesses were required to do so by June. The stakes get higher Sept. 28.
“How much longer are we going to tolerate people’s lives being destroyed when they fall for an imposter call that looks like it’s coming from their bank or the IRS? This is inexcusable, it has to stop, and phone company compliance will make a big difference,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director for the MASSPIRG Education Fund. The Education Fund today published a new report, Make the Ringing Stop: The FCC is Finally Fighting Back Against Robocalls. “Phone companies have known about this deadline for five years. The FCC told companies to do this three years ago and Congress passed a law mandating it nearly two years ago.”
Overall, among 3,063 telecommunications providers who reported their status to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as of this month and who the FCC did not exempt from submitting information:
● Only 17 percent said they’d completely implemented anti-robocall technology, called STIR/SHAKEN.
● 27 percent had partially implemented the technology.
● 56 percent said they were not using the industry standard technology but rather are using their own methods to manage robocalls.
“By not complying with the laws in place, voice service providers are exploiting vulnerable consumers and subjecting them to unwanted calls and potential scams from robocallers,” said AG Healey. “I want to thank MASSPIRG for producing a robust, detailed report about how many companies have, and have not, come into compliance with federal anti-robocall laws. We look forward to our continued partnership with them in working on decreasing the amount of robocalls received by consumers.”
“Here we are with more than 80 percent of phone companies not doing all they can to stop robocalls. These unwanted calls terrorize all of us and victimize many of us,” said Cummings. “As if the $10 billion a year in fraud losses from illegal robocalls isn’t bad enough, they cost us Americans another $3 billion a year in wasted time.”
While robocalls have declined slightly this summer, regulators need to move up the deadline for smaller companies, who have until June 2023 to upgrade their technology. The attorneys general in all 50 states are calling for this as well because illegal robocallers are flocking to phone companies with weak robocall detection.
PIRG Education Fund looked closer at 49 of the largest mobile and home phone companies in the United States (those that can serve 1 million or more). Only 16 of them have told the FCC that they have completely implemented anti-robocall technology. An additional 18 have partially implemented the technology. The remaining 15 companies have told the FCC they haven’t adopted the industry standard technology at all and they’re using their own methods to reduce robocalls, or they have not reported their status to the FCC’s database, as required by law.
Starting Sept. 28, phone providers are required to block calls from companies that haven’t at least reported their status to the FCC.
To avoid robocalls consumers can register their phone number on the national Do Not Call Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its website. To report robocall scams and unwanted calls consumers can go to the FTC website here. Massachusetts consumers can also file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General here.
Check out our new guide: 17 tips to reduce robocalls and protect yourself from scams
With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their narrow agendas, MASSPIRG Education Fund offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. MASSPIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, together with our national partner U.S. PIRG Education Fund, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation.
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