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Robocall-Blocking Technology Now A Possibility

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-11 12:25:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Are you tired of getting those automated phone calls in the middle of dinner urging you to vote for a certain candidate or take a vacation cruise?

You can now tell your phone company that it's okay to block those robocalls.

Last week, it was the Federal Trade Commission who heard from angry consumers who said they hate getting those automated calls.

Thursday, it was the FCC or Federal Communications Commission who made it clear that consumers have a right to control the calls they get.

The Commission adopted new rules that they hope will help consumers stop those unwanted robocalls and spam texts.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at Thursday's meeting, "It's time and long past time to do something about this."

In the past, phone companies like AT&T and Verizon were required to connect every phone call. But, today the FCC told them they do not have to connect those annoying robocalls if a consumer does not want them. Thursday's ruling also cleared the way for phone companies to offer consumers robocall-blocking technology.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made this plea during the meeting, "Phone companies, please start letting your customers request to have robocalls blocked."

This all comes as the FCC said it gets more complaints about unwanted sales calls than anything else. Last year, the FCC got more than 215,000 complaints.

Thursday's action by the FCC updates what's known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which when it originally took effect back in 1991 applied only to real people making cold calls. They for the most part of course have long been replaced by machines.

There were a few exceptions to these new rules. Your bank can still call you to warn you about things like possible fraud involving your account, and your doctor or pharmacy can send you an automated message to let you know about appointments or medication refills, though you will have the right to opt out from these calls and texts at any time.

There was no specific timetable given for when phone companies would roll out and offer robocall-blocking services. But consumer groups Thursday asked that it be done as quickly as possible.