A comprehensive list of effective FCC actions to stop scam robocalls

Ben Rothke
4 min readAug 9, 2023
https://ncdoj.gov

The plague of scam robocall$

The scourge of scam robocalls is a national problem, and there is no end in sight. The reason for the billions of monthly scam calls comes down to simply economics — and it’s that scam robocalls are a cash cow for the big telco providers.

Bob Sullivan wrote that you can call every phone in Los Angeles for $1,000, which is why the economics of robocalling make life easy for scammers. Given that the average salary in India, where most scam robocalls originate, is under $5,000, low-skilled workers can quickly find themselves making more than surgeons.

Americans are being scammed out of their life savings due to these calls. Older adults find they have bought Medicare Advantage plans that no longer give them access to their doctors and pharmacy coverage. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Big telco wants you to believe that scam robocalls are the work of nefarious sophisticated criminal gangs that can’t be stopped. But in truth, it takes but an hour to eliminate most of these calls. The FCC & telecoms know robocalls can be stopped, but all they do is put in place weak controls and create many task forces to address the problem.

According to YouMail CEO Alex Quilici, the June 2023 volume of nearly 5 billion robocalls indicates our new normal. That equates to 161.9 million robocalls per day and 1,874 robocalls per second.

Big telco claims the problem is far too complex for them to do anything about. Make no mistake; this is not a trivial endeavor to stop. But the same big telco that can roll out 5G networks across the country, and enable your smartphone to connect to countless services, suddenly stop wagging their profit tails when they are asked to do something to stop scam robocalls.

Imagine if billions of packages swamped FedEx and UPS to deliver that were not paid for. Do you think they’d stand idly by, deliver them, and complain they couldn’t stop them? Of course not.

Truth be told, the analogy is not perfect, as big telco has international treaties they must comply with, and they can’t carte blanche block these calls. But they certainly can do infinitely more to stop them.

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Ben Rothke

I work in information security at Tapad. Write book reviews for the RSA blog, & a Founding member of the Cloud Security Alliance and Cybersecurity Canon.