Mobile Phone Companies Can Now Block Unwanted Calls

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. ruling / ˈru lɪŋ / (n) – a decision that was made by someone with authority

    The public is disappointed with the judge’s ruling.

  2. automated / ˈɔ təˌmeɪtɪd / (adj) – controlled by a machine, usually a computer

    The automated equipment at the factory can assemble a product in just two minutes.

  3. scammer / ˈskæm ər / (n) – a person who engages in dishonest trade

    The scammer was able to steal $1,000 from Josh’s card.

  4. pass (someone) off as (someone/something) / pæs ɔf əz / (idiom) – to make others think that a person is someone he or she is not

    He was arrested because he tried to pass himself off as a doctor, but his patient found out that he was a fake.

  5. stem the tide / stɛm ðə taɪd / (idiom) – to control something so that it stops from progressing or increasing

    The new law stemmed the tide of crimes in the city.


Read the text below.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a new ruling that gives mobile phone companies the right to automatically block unwanted phone calls.

Robocalls or automated spam phone calls have become problematic due to cheap mass calling software. Although mobile phone companies already have robocall blocking for their customers, the service is available only by request.

This setup changes under the FCC’s new ruling. Now, mobile phone companies can automatically block robocalls even if the customers did not opt into the service. They can also block calls from unknown numbers. Mobile phone companies will be using technology similar to spam mail checking, in which algorithms and network scanning are employed.

According to a report, Americans receive around five billion robocalls on a monthly basis. Some of these robocalls are valid and come from schools, banks, or medical institutions. The majority, on the other hand, are from scammers trying to pass themselves off as authorities, like government officials or debt collectors. As a result, the FCC gets more than 200,000 complaints every month, prompting the agency to make a firm plan against robocalls.

The FCC’s chairman applauds mobile phone companies that have promised to deploy the service. The agency also encourages others to do the same to help stem the tide of robocalls.

However, robocall blocking might not be free because it is up to mobile phone companies to decide on the cost. Nonetheless, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks hopes that the service is free-of-charge. He said that companies will save more money anyway as networks become less congested and customer service will deal with fewer complaints.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think will happen if robocalls were not stopped? Discuss.
• Instead of robocalls, what can schools, banks, or medical institutions use to reach people? Explain.

Discussion B

• How can people avoid scams in different communication platforms (e.g. phone call, e-mail)? Discuss.
• Do you think technology has made it easier or harder for people to scam others? Explain.