Finally: The FCC Is Fighting Back Against Robocalls

iStock/Hailshadow
iStock/Hailshadow

Much to the despair of anyone with a phone number, we are living in the golden age of robocalls. It's cheaper and easier than ever for spammers all over the world to mass-call millions of people, usually spoofing phone numbers to make it look like the call is coming from someone in the same area code. There is some good news, though. According to The Verge, the FCC is finally proposing to fine robocallers who use fake numbers.

For the first time, the agency has proposed two hefty fines against companies over the use of robocalls that used spoofed numbers to hide the caller's name from consumers. The agency has suggested an $82 million penalty for one telemarketing company it says made 21 million spoofed robocalls over three months in late 2016 and early 2017 selling health insurance. It has also suggested a $37.5 million penalty for an Arizona-based telemarketing firm that it says made 2 million spoofed robocalls offering remodeling services over the course of 14 months starting in 2016.

"Accurate caller ID information allows consumers to make informed decisions about which calls to accept, ignore, or block, and whether the party on the other end of the phone line is reputable and deserving of their trust," the commission wrote in its notice to Affordable Enterprises of Arizona, the company that used spoofed calls to sell remodeling services. Many of the consumers who received calls from the company were on the Do Not Call list, making it illegal to contact them. (The companies don't have to pay up immediately; they can either fight the proposal or settle with the FCC.)

By 2019, up to half of all calls made to cell phones will be from spammers, according to one estimate from First Orion, a company that provides anti-spam technology to phone companies. Unfortunately for consumers, these fines might not change that by much. While the threat of financial penalties might deter some telemarketers from using spoofed numbers to convince consumers to pick up the phone (as well as illegally calling people on the Do Not Call list), it probably won't radically reduce the number of annoying telemarketing calls you get. Many robocalls come from outside the U.S., meaning the FCC doesn't have a lot of leverage against those companies.

To significantly reduce the amount of robocalls that come to your phone, you're probably better off using technology than waiting for government regulators to step in. Some phone carriers, third-party apps, and new cell phones offer scam-call blocking capabilities, which, in the short run, may offer you more protection than the FCC can.

[h/t The Verge]

Wednesday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Computer Monitors, Plant-Based Protein Powder, and Blu-ray Sets

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

This All-in-One Storage Solution Can Be Used at Home or Carried on the Go

RUX/Indiegogo
RUX/Indiegogo

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Whether you're looking for a durable storage solution for your garage or a roomy pack for a long camping trip, the collapsible RUX carrier can help keep your stuff safe and secure without taking up much room in your closet when you're done. And until December 10, you can support the project on Indiegogo.

The main idea of the RUX is to serve multiple purposes at once. You can carry it around like a backpack or duffle bag during a weekend trip outdoors, or you can use it as a stationary storage bin for your car or home. Despite being strong enough to hold your bulkiest gear, it only weighs around four pounds and is designed to be collapsible, so you can fold it up and slip it away afterwards. (Unfolded, the RUX comes in at 15.7 by 19.5 by 13.8 inches.)

And if you're looking to use it during more serious outdoor adventures, you can rest assured that its weatherproof construction will keep your stuff dry in the rain. There's even a window that allows you to double-check that your items are safe and sound.

RUX/Indiegogo

The RUX was created with sustainability and longevity in mind. Not only does the RUX have a lifetime warranty, but each component can also come off and be replaced easily so you can continue using the product no matter the problem. RUX is a member of 1% For The Planet, which is a group that gives back 1 percent of sales to environmental causes, even if they are not profitable.

There is still time to back the RUX campaign and reap the rewards. If you back $196, you’ll get your first RUX along with it. However, if you back $265, you’ll get one RUX, two divider totes, an EDC pouch, and two utility straps. If you back $449, you’ll get all the same things from the second level along with an extra RUX. If you want to back $515 or $725, you’ll get double or triple everything, respectively, from the second level.

The RUX campaign ends on December 10, so there is still time to back this product through Indiegogo. Shipments of RUX will hopefully start by June 2021.

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