Help coming to block scam calls

NEW YORK (AP) — New measures by U.S. regulators could help thwart some of the billions of robocalls received in the U.S.

The Federal Communica­tions Commission said Wednesday that it will vote in June on whether to let wireless carriers block spam calls by default, which should mean that more spam calls are blocked. Right now, customers have to take the extra step of requesting tools from their carriers or downloading apps from other companies to help them weed out most unwanted calls.

The rising volume of calls in the last few years, driven by how cheap and easy it is for scammers to call millions of people as well as weak enforcement, has created pressure on Congress, regulators and phone companies to act.

The volume of calls has risen to roughly 5 billion per month, according to call-blocker YouMail, from 2.7 billion in November 2017. That’s when the government gave carriers explicit, although narrow, permission to block certain types of calls.

Many robocalls are not scam calls, though, but calls from debt collectors and telemarketers selling insurance, cruises and the like. It’s not clear if carriers would automatically block those calls, too, said Margot Saunders, an expert on robocalls.