Relief is on the way as FCC mandates crackdown on annoying ‘robocalls’

(WIVB) — Starting Wednesday, your cellphone carrier is required to have the technology in place to weed out those irritating robocalls heading your way and report their system to the government.

How much of a relief is this crackdown on robocalls? Get this, researchers estimate consumers received a mind-boggling 4-billion spam calls on their cell phones — just in the month of May. Wireless carriers are now required to show they have the means to keep spammers in check.

They are some of the most annoying calls you don’t want to get.

Coming soon: Dialing “716” area code for local phone calls

“Excessive to the point where I think I am getting calls that are very important that may not be,” said one person struggling with the spam calls.

“Sometimes I get random calls just through my work so I have to answer them and then all of a sudden I am like, this is a robocall. I get messages — just kind of a big pain,” added another.

Even if the Caller ID looks familiar, spammers are using sophisticated technology that will spoof a number that you don’t want to answer.

“When you pick up your phone they mark you as someone who could potentially be a victim, one day, and they actually sell your phone number to other people saying hey, there is someone on the end of this who is willing to pick up,” said CNET Editor-at-Large Ian Sherr.

Wireless carriers are now required to develop what is called, “authentication technology” to screen out bad actors based on patterns of misleading calls.

“And what that means is when a call is being made, a carrier can tell that it really is the person, who they say they are, on the line,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said.

“We are seeing 10 billion dollars worth of fraud a year against consumers, not to mention three billion dollars a year in wasted time from you and me answering all these stupid phone calls. So I think that the FCC has finally heard enough aspects of our society that they are done,” added Teresa Murray of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

A relief for folks who have just had it with the robocalls.

“I wonder how many times my car warranty can be expired? Especially since he got rid of it 10 years ago! That is maddening.”

The bad news is, even if your cell phone carrier could stop all robocalls, the law still allows certain calls to go through. This includes messages from charities, debt collectors, certain health care providers, and of course, politicians.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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