Congress working to hang up on robocalls, spoofing

Bill would require cellphone companies to implement anti-spoofing technology

SAN ANTONIO – Consumers aren’t the only ones fed up with unwanted robocalls.  

In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers in Washington are focused on bills that would crack down on the offenders and require wireless carriers to tackle spoofing.

Spoofing is a tactic scammers use to get people to answer the call. They manipulate the caller ID so that a familiar or local number shows up on the screen.

The proposed bills would beef up existing laws and mandate that phone companies implement technologies to reduce “spoofed” calls.  The telecom industry is working on deploying the new authentication technology, but it has been a slow process.

Consumer advocates want action, as the Do Not Call Registry is not enough to stop the illegal callers.

“The protections in place haven’t been enough to prevent consumers from being hounded by robocalls, but these proposals in Congress would ensure that phone companies do more to stop spoofed calls,” said Kara Kebler, with Consumer Reports. “That would be a major win for consumers.”

As for how you can protect yourself now, Consumer Reports said you can try using your phone carrier’s anti-robocall service.

Many companies offer alerts to tell consumers that an incoming call may be from a telemarketer, and others offer services that block calls from probable scammers.

Also available are third-party robocall-blocking apps. Consumer Reports said Nomorobo, Hiya and YouMail offer call protection options.

To find out what your phone carrier offers, go to its website and look for links referring to call security or call blocking.

Another option is to let calls go to voicemail and return only those you actually want.

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