robocalls

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon and nine other telecommunications companies teamed up with attorneys general of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia to announce a new pact to eradicate a common scourge in America: illegal robocalls.

Your phone company may start blocking robocalls without your needing to ask for it.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission passed a ruling that allows and encourages phone companies to block robocalls by default.

"We think these actions will help consumers in the near term and the long term to get the peace and the quiet that they deserve," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The spam calls keep coming, offering you loans or threatening you with jail time for IRS violations. By some estimates, they make up at least a quarter of all calls in the United States.

And as the problem continues to grow, it creates a whole new set of related nuisances for people like Dakota Hill.

He estimates he gets hundreds of unwanted spam calls every month. But Hill says he also gets calls from people who think he's spamming them.

If the government's new plan works, the number of robocalls you receive may go down in the near future.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to push phone companies to "block unwanted calls to their customers by default."

If enacted, the proposal would not compel phone companies to impose default call-blocks. But it would shield telecom providers from legal liability for blocking certain calls.

When was the last time you got irritated by a robocall?

By some estimates, 26 billion of them were made to U.S. cellphones last year.

Lawmakers in the Senate Commerce Committee recently advanced a bill — the TRACED Act — that would allow the federal government to levy fines as high as $10,000 on those responsible for the calls, many of which are scams attempting to ensnare sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers.

If you live in a part of the country that has a large Chinese immigrant population, you may have recently received a robocall in Mandarin — or even several of them. The calls seem to be blanketing certain phone exchanges without regard to the national origin of the recipients. Presumably, this is how the New York Police Department ended up on the call list.

NYPD Officer Donald McCaffrey, who works in the Queens grand larceny division, is investigating the calls in New York City. He has also been receiving them on a daily basis.

Federal regulators on Thursday said they've identified "the perpetrator of one of the largest ... illegal robocalling campaigns" they have ever investigated.

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $120 million fine for a Miami resident said to be single-handedly responsible for almost 97 million robocalls over just the last three months of 2016.

Officials say Adrian Abramovich auto-dialed hundreds of millions of phone calls to landlines and cellphones in the U.S. and Canada and at one point even overwhelmed an emergency medical paging service.

Here's an experience some of us have had. The phone rings. You pick it up and say "Hello. Hello. Helloooo." But nobody answers.

It turns out there could be someone on the other end of the line: an automated computer system that's calling your number — and tens of thousands of others — to build a list of humans to target for theft.

Build A List

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, a company in Atlanta that detects phone fraud, says that in any number of ways, the criminal ring gets your 10 digits and loads them into an automated system.