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Could this mean the end of robocalls in New Jersey … for real?

If you’ve placed yourself on the Do Not Call registry over the past few years, you’ve probably realized that move didn’t help much.

telephone
Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ

Robocalls are likely still interrupting your favorite television show or dinnertime with the family.

There are rules on the books meant to prohibit these pre-recorded calls — which are often scams — but they remain the top source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.

To combat the persistent problem, new rules proposed by the FCC over the past week would allow phone companies to have more power over blocking these unwanted calls from reaching our phones.

With the new liberties, phone companies would be able to take on “ID spoofing,” through which someone can make it look like they’re calling from a different number.

“This must change. Under my proposal, the FCC would give providers greater leeway to block spoofed robocalls. Specifically, they could block calls that purport to be from unassigned or invalid phone numbers,” said chairman Ajit Pai in a blog post on Medium when announcing the proposal.

The idea received a thumbs-up at a March 23 open meeting. The public will have an opportunity to submit feedback, and the proposal could be finalized sometime this year.

According to Pai’s post, U.S. consumers are receiving 2.4 billion robocalls per month.

How to avoid the 'area code scam'

“Robocalls are the bane of most people’s existence,” said Steven Miller, coordinator of undergraduate studies for the Rutgers University department of journalism and media studies. “The phone companies, for years, have not had the rights to eliminate them.”

Miller himself has been a common target of the robocalling practice. Just recently, he wisely chose to ignore a call from (111) 111-1111.

“I would say once a month, I receive a phone call from somebody claiming that they’re Dell, because I have a Dell computer,” Miller said.

Miller said it’s encouraging to see the FCC attempt to make an additional stand against the problem, but it’s unlikely consumers will absolutely escape these daily to weekly calls.

“Every time we try and come up with a way to avoid the robocalls, they find another way to get around it,” he said.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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