Consumer Alert: FCC fines 2 companies for ‘robocalls’

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There is some good news for anyone who’s fed up with robocalls. The Federal Communications Commission cracked down on two telemarketers recently, imposing or proposing fines of more than $120 million.

The FCC issued an $82 million fine against a North Carolina insurance company, Wilmington Insurance Quotes, for making more than 21 million unsolicited calls to consumers to try to sell health insurance and generate leads. The feds say the company spoofed its caller ID info. 

The agency also proposed a $37.5 million fine on an Arizona home improvements company, Affordable Enterprises. The FCC says the company made more than 2 million spoofed phone calls. The company’s owner denies that.

Consumer Alert: Stopping spam phone calls

But even one of the FCC’s own commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel, admits much more needs to be done. “It's crazy to think that these individual actions are going to do the trick and staunch the flow," Rosenworcel says. "With this one-by-one effort we are trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon."

But until the federal government comes up with a widespread solution, many experts say consumers have only two options: don’t answer calls from any phone number you don’t recognize, or install a robocall blocker.

There are also a number of third-party apps on the market. Most, like RoboKiller and NoMoRobo, cost about $2 a month. Others, like TrueCaller, Hiya and Mr. Number, offer both free and more-powerful paid versions. You can also ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service.  Some carriers now offer them, also sometimes offering both free and paid options.

Finally, while it may not reduce the number robocalls you receive, experts say registering your phones on the government’s Do Not Call list will make it easier for authorities to enforce the law.

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