FCC passes new rules against "spoof" robocalls

FCC passes new rules against spoof robocalls

There's a big new push to crack down on annoying robocalls from overseas, calls that may be using your own number. The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules that won't stop the calls, but will allow the FCC to go after perpetrators making scam calls and texts from overseas.

"You feel so helpless because you have no control over where your phone number is going," Beverly Figueroa said. 

Foreign scammers hijacked Figueroa's cell number through a technique called "spoofing" that made it appear as if she was calling countless potential victims. Hundreds of those potential victims called angrily called Figueroa until she changed her number.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission made it illegal for foreign callers to spoof a U.S. number, with the hope it will prompt phone companies to block more calls and texts and give law enforcement new tools to go after scammers.
 
"We're confident that the FCC, exercising the authority that we have, will be able to stop some of these problems we have before they materialize," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

Robocalls are the number one complaint that comes to the FCC. In June, the calls flooded phones at a rate of nearly 1,700 a second, 1.8 Billion of them from scammers.
 
But CNET's Roger Cheng says this is far from the end of robocalls.

"The additional enforcement powers can only help, but that said, these scammers, these robocall folks, are smart people," Cheng said. "They have been able to continually outwit and really advance and upgrade their game."

A phone scam cost Elfriede and Mike Flavin more than $80,000. A caller posing as a lawyer with a Tennessee number convinced the couple in their late 70s their grandson had been arrested and if they sent cash the charges would disappear.

"This is an evil, evil scam that preys upon the emotional connection that grandparents have for their grandchildren," the Flavins' daughter, Erika, said. "And it's just it's absolutely horrible."

Once someone falls for one of these phone scams there's rarely anything that can be done to recover the money. 

The FCC has told phone companies they need to adopt new technology that can determine if a call is legit by the end of the year, but for now those scam calls will keep rolling in.