FCC allows telecom companies to block illegal robocalls

PHOTO: Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before the Senate Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee about his FY2020 budget requests on Capitol Hill, May 7, 2019. PlayChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WATCH Robocalls increase nearly 400% in recent years

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to allow telecom providers to block illegal and unwanted calls before they reach consumers, saying it will make an immediate difference for those plagued by scam calls.

The commission says the "Do Not Call" registry works for legal robocalls, but an estimated 47% of robocalls are illegal.

The vote means that under existing rules your phone company can block unwanted calls based on a computer's assessment of the call, similar to a service some companies allow customers to use on an opt-in basis or or which requires a separate app.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the vote is a response to the thousands of complaints from consumers and he expects phone companies to adopt the tool quickly and start blocking unwanted robocalls.

"I hate robocalls as much as you do. I get them myself on my mobile phone, I hear about them from my family and friends, and I know that consumers want to reclaim their sanity," he wrote in a USA Today op-ed.

"I’m optimistic that the strong FCC proposal to allow these calls to be blocked by default will help get us there — and hasten the end to what one former senator rightly called the “scourge of civilization.”