Phone Companies May Get Power to Shield You From Robocalls

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The FCC will soon vote on a proposal that would allow phone companies to selectively block calls to customers.

The proposal by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler authorizes "do not disturb" technology that would block unwanted communications such as robocalls.

The FCC, which enforces federal regulations such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, is scheduled to vote on the proposal when its members meet Thursday.

If the proposal is approved, providers of both cellphone and home landline phone services could offer such technology to their customers, according to a two-page FCC document filed about Wheeler's plan.

Unwanted calls and texts are the top consumer complaint to the FCC, which received more than 215,000 complaints related to the TCPA last year.

The TCPA authorized the FCC to establish the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003, but scammers and telemarketers have used technology to circumvent the federal law, CBS News reports.

Spoofing, for example, is the practice of using apps to alter what appears on the call recipient's caller ID or cellphone screen, allowing scammers to impersonate government agencies like the IRS.

Linda Blasse of Dallas, who is on the Do Not Call list, told federal lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday:

"These people call my business three times a day. I tell them to stop calling and they keep calling."

The FCC proposal doesn't address whether or how much phone companies would be allowed to charge their customers for call-blocking services. CBS reports that Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill predicts the services would be popular:

"If they [phone companies] came out with an ad, 'We're going to block robocalls,' I mean, I don't think they could handle the business they would get."

While waiting for the proposal to be approved, you can find out how to stop robocalls by reading "8 Tips to Stop Annoying Robocalls."

Would you be willing to pay for robocall-blocking services? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

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