Those obnoxious robocalls that are regularly blowing up your phone may soon be a thing of the past. The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to explore the possibility of allowing mobile carriers and landline providers to block calls from spoofed phone numbers.
The FCC has proposed new rules that would allow mobile service providers to "block spoofed robocalls when the spoofed Caller ID can’t possibly be valid." This would give carriers the right to block calls that come from numbers that aren't valid under the North American Numbering Plan and valid numbers that haven't been assigned to a phone company.
The rules would also allow carriers to block calls coming from valid numbers that have been assigned to a phone company but haven't been given to one of their subscribers — which may indicate the number is being spoofed.
Exploration of this new rule would mark an expansion of the FCC's initial actions against robocalls in 2015. At the time, the commission granted voice service providers the power to offer call blocking tools to customers — an ability that several carriers have acted on — but did not issue an order regarding caller ID spoofing. The new proposal would address that problem.
"One particularly pernicious category of robocalls is spoofed robocalls — i.e., robocalls where the caller ID is faked, hiding the caller’s true identity," the proposal reads. "Fraudsters bombard consumers’ phones at all hours of the day with spoofed robocalls, which in some cases lure consumers into scams (e.g., when a caller claims to be collecting money owed to the Internal Revenue Service) or lead to identity theft."
In a blog post published on Thursday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said mobile subscribers in the U.S. are receiving more than 2.4 billion robocalls per month. In the post, Pai argued that there is "no reason" why a legitimate caller would spoof their phone number and said it was "just a way for scammers to evade the law."
The practice of spoofing numbers recently made news as part of an investigation into the rising number of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers and schools across the U.S. According to authorities who were investigating the calls, caller ID spoofing technology was used by the threat makers to disguise their identities.
Pai scheduled a preliminary vote for the new rules to take place on March 23. If the vote passes, it will send the rules to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) process, which will allow for public comment prior to the commission issuing a final ruling.