Ending Robocalls

A year ago thousands of you told us how fed up you were with endless robocalls that peddle scams and interrupt important family time. And we took action -- launching our End Robocalls national campaign in February 2015 to put a stop to these calls.

Now that a half-million consumers have joined with us in demanding the phone companies solve this problem, we reached a critical point in our campaign – a meeting in late January with US Telecom, the industry trade group, to get you solutions.

“We couldn’t have reached this point without the participation of so many consumers who wanted action on robocalls,” says Tim Marvin, campaign director of EndRobocalls.org. “It took a half-million consumer voices to get the phone companies attention. Now that we’ve got it, we’re going to get solutions.”

The meeting with US Telecom caps a massive consumer grassroots movement to fix a problem so many had given up on. The Do Not Call list wasn’t working. Phone scammers would close up and reopen shop before the cops could find them. And the industry claimed it couldn’t legally block robocalls and that their hands were tied.

But we believed the major phone companies could dramatically reduce robocalls by offering customers the latest technology to stop these calls. We launched a national petition demanding that the phone companies offer these tools free to consumers, and backed that up by staging actions, releasing research, and working with our allies -- garnering lots of media coverage along the way.

With the help of 50,000 consumer actions, the Federal Communications Commission agreed with us in mid-2015 that the phone companies could indeed block robocalls. The FCC chairman even said that phone companies can and should offer advanced call-blocking tools to consumers.

After the FCC’s decision was released, almost every state Attorney General called on the phone companies to offer these tools to consumers. And eight Senators asked the phone companies and the FCC to work together to put these tools into the hands of consumers.

More than a hundred consumers backed that up by participating in a ground-breaking test of robocall-blocking tools for Consumer Reports magazine. And consumer Linda Blase, one of thousands who shared her robocall story, testified before the Senate Aging Committee on how robocalls interfered with her work and quality of life.

The campaign was tested when a sneaky robocall provision was slipped into the federal budget bill in October at the last minute. The provision allows debt collectors to robocall consumers to collect debt to the federal government, such as education or tax debt. But the law could even lead relatives of those in debt to be robocalled – even though they don’t owe any money.

We took action, channeling more than 80,000 consumer messages into Senate offices with demands to support the HANG UP Act, which, if passed, would delete the new provision. And efforts are paying off, as four Senators recently co-sponsored the bill since its introduction in November, and 41 lawmakers have called on the FCC to strictly limit these debt collection robocalls.

To cap off the year, the End Robocalls campaign delivered those 500,000 consumer signatures to both Verizon and CenturyLink, increasing the pressure on the major telecom companies to come to the negotiating table and beginning providing customers robocall-blocking tools.

Add your voice, and help us keep up the pressure, by visiting EndRobocalls.org to take action or share your robocall story.

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