FCC's new rule allows phone service carriers to block robocalls

Companies will start blocking unwanted calls by the end of the year.
Companies will start blocking unwanted calls by the end of the year.

The Federal Communications Commission estimates the average American receives 10 robocalls a day.

The good news: The calls may soon stop and the FCC is stepping up the war on robocalls.

"There is one thing in our country today that unites Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans: It is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls," said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. "My message to the American people today is simple. We hear you, and we are on your side."

On Thursday, the FCC approved new rules making it easier for big telecom companies to block suspected and unwanted robocalls for their customers. 

The number of robocalls skyrocketed 46 percent from 2017 to 2018 -- more than 26 billion robocalls were made in 2018. 

The pressure on the FCC to do something has been mounting.

In April, Congress reintroduced legislation that would improve policies to criminalize robocalling and make tracing of those calls faster. That bill has passed and is headed to the House. Until then, the new FCC rule will help. 

Some phone service carriers currently offer call-blocking tools, but the consumer must opt in to use them. This ruling lets service providers block calls as default. 

The FCC expects companies to start blocking robocalls by the end of the year.

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.