Apparently the honchos at the Federal Communications Commission have been so deluged with complaints from consumers about telemarketing calls that they finally decided to do something about it. I will remain skeptical until I see some good come out of this new development but it looks like it may be a step in the right direction.
Most of us are now painfully aware that the government’s “Do Not Call” list is now virtually useless. For many consumers it has probably always been that way, but I believe it actually did some of some good for a while, and can be credited with reducing the number of telemarketing calls millions of Americans received for a few years.
A big part of what turned the “Do Not Call” list and the accompanying laws against telemarketing into a paper tiger can be blamed on “globalization.” For many of the same reasons that we often get connected to call centers in other countries when we try contacting a big company by phone, a lot of the telemarketing and scam telephone calls we receive now-a-days are coming from countries on the other side of the world. India and Pakistan are said to be big players in this business.
Another nail in the coffin of the “Do Not Call” list was probably the reluctance of the FCC and other regulatory agencies to actually do something when someone violated the law. See my story about how my complaints to federal regulatory agencies about telemarketing calls I received back in 2013 were a complete waste of my time.
Since people making telemarketing calls from foreign countries have no reason to care about our “Do Not Call” list or laws against making unsolicited sales calls, they are free to do whatever they please. They are also a very crafty bunch and will often manipulate caller ID data so they can make a call appear to be coming from wherever they want. If they want a call to show up on your caller ID as coming from “Mom,” they can do it.
Most of us do not like receiving telemarketing calls, whether they come from our hometown newspaper or from a bunch of crooks half-way around the world. As a result, the FCC has been deluged with complaints from consumers who are fed up with all these annoying calls they are receiving. And finally, the FCC took some action. Not a great deal of action, mind you, but they did something that may lead to consumers having access to new tools that can block calls.
Block calls? If you’re at all familiar with telephone technology, you know that it’s been possible to block calls for many years. The problem was that the FCC’s policies on blocking calls were a bit ambiguous, according to some of the bigÂ telecommunications companies, and that made them a little skittish about offering consumers a way to block calls from certain telephone numbers. The companies claimed they were concerned about getting into legal trouble by allowing consumers to block calls. That’s their story and they seem to be sticking to it.
That is why people like myself have been wondering for years why our telephone companies did not offer us a way to block calls. Yes, some telecommunications companies did offer that ability to their customers but many did not. Now that the FCC has clarified the rules regarding call-blocking, it is believed that it will clear the way for all telecommunications companies to offer call-blocking capability to all of their customers.
The ability to block calls is the consumer’s best weapon against these morons that make their living by pestering people over the phone. It’s a sure bet that telephone companies will be offering call-blocking as another “premium” feature that we will all be expected to pay extra for. For many people this will be a feature that will be well worth paying for.
Fortunately, I don’t get a tremendous number of telemarketing calls these days but I know there are others out there who get these calls every day. And phone calls aren’t the only problem. Millions of people receive junk text messages every day advertising just about anything you can imagine. Spam isn’t just in your e-mail in-box any more, and some beleaguered consumers probably feel like there is no escape from an endless flood of spam and junk telephone calls.
The new call-blocking features many consumers may be able to take advantage of soon will also be able to block telephone numbers of people sending text messages as well, so that will be a big help.
Up until now, the telephone companies have been explaining away their refusal to offer call-blocking by claiming they were afraid of getting into legal trouble. With the FCC rules now clarified, they won’t be able to use that excuse, and hopefully they will step up to the plate and offer customers a comprehensive and affordable set of call-blocking features that will let consumers fight back against the flood of crap that seems to be coming at them from every direction these days.