Stop Unwanted Pre-Election Robo-Calls

The way you feel after receiving far too many harassing, automated phone calls.

Target: Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler

Goal: Stop harassing robo-calls before they explode in the 2016 election year.

The Do Not Call list isn’t working. The list contains 217 million phone numbers, but in 2014 complaints about violations were over three million because many legitimate companies still don’t honor it. At the same time, many unwanted calls come from scammers who pay no attention to it and many of these are operating outside of the United States. Technology is also making it easier for scammers to show up on Caller ID with a legitimate phone number. If all that weren’t bad enough, every election season political robo-calls can really multiply. Minus the consent of the phone’s owner, political robo-calls are illegal on cell phones. However, in most states, they’re still legal for land lines, even if you’re on the Do Not Call list.

Remedies are not working. Thus far, the Federal Trade Commission has collected only eight percent of the $1.2 billion in fines levied for violating the Do Not Call list. The elderly are easy targets and, in 2011, lost $350 million to phone scams. One bright light, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Tom Wheeler, has noticed the problem. Wheeler announced a new proposal affirming the rights of phone companies to offer robo-call blocking tools to customers. The FCC hasn’t been clear on the types of call-blocking tools their rules will cover, but most call-blockers currently available allow consumers to block political robo-calls.

None of us has to suffer from obnoxious and illegal robo-calls, especially in an election season, because the technology already exists that can stop robo-calls before they reach your phone. The problem is, few consumers have access to it. Major phone companies claim they can’t legally block calls to most land lines and offer blocking only to certain Internet-based phone customers. Meanwhile, the banking industry is lobbying for permission to make robo-calls to cell phones. Enough. Consumers must have the right to block harassing calls. The FCC should direct phone companies to offer free blocking tools to all customers.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear FCC Chairman Wheeler,

How much outrage does it take? Already, 77 percent of consumers are “highly annoyed” by unwanted robo-calls, especially political robo-calls that sprout and multiply every campaign season. These calls must be stopped before the 2016 election season and there is a way to do it. The FCC can authorize phone companies to offer blocking technologies that they already possess as a free service. It’s disgraceful that Americans are subject to ongoing harassment from unwanted calls when a remedy is so readily available. Phone companies can stop this abuse with direction from the FCC.

Unlimited money in politics produces non-stop harassment of voters and that’s got to end. Political robo-calls are so thoroughly disliked, voters have claimed to vote against a candidate because they got sick of hearing from them. Owning a phone shouldn’t mean being subjected to persistently unwanted robo-calls, especially in election years when the calls can be alarmingly frequent. The people must be protected with call blocking solutions for both land lines and cell phones.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mike Licht

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