Regulators Give Phone Companies New Tools to Fight Robocalls

NEW YORK (AP) – Federal regulators are giving phone companies the right to block unwanted calls without getting customers’ permission first.

Thursday’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission could make call-blocking widespread and help consumers dodge annoying robocalls.

The agency expects phone companies to offer these tools for free. But it doesn’t require them to do so. Consumers can also “opt out” and ask their company not to block anything.

As the robocall problem has exploded, Congress is taking steps, too. A bill passed by the Senate would require phone companies to do more, but it’s not a cure-all. It still needs House approval, where Democrats in charge have their own bills that go further.

Even if all steps work, there are already concerns that scammers will figure out how to bypass them.

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