In 2003, the FCC and the FTC took steps to limit the number of telemarketing calls that consumers receive. The creation of the National Do Not Call Registry was certainly a step in the right direction but as anyone that owns a phone knows, it’s no longer all that effective.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency received more than 215,000 complains about automated calls in 2014. As you can imagine, they receive more complaints on this topic than any other issue.

Moving forward, consumers will now have another ally on their side: wireless service providers.

Up to this point, some telecoms have told irritated customers that they can’t do anything about automated calls as they’re required to connect every call. That’s no longer the case.

The FCC has voted 3-2 to give telecoms the authority to block automated calls and text messages before they even reach a consumer. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the new rule also classifies the use of automated dialing machines, pre-recorded calls and text messages the same as phone calls, thus eliminating a loophole that companies have used for years to circumvent old rules.

Just because a telecom now has the power to block robocalls and texts doesn’t mean they’re required to do so. If a customer asks their telecom to block such calls, they can simply decline to do so.

The two votes against the rule were from concerned Republican commissioners that believe the guidelines go too far and will restrict automated calls used for legitimate purposes, such as to inform a person that their taxi is on the way.

Image courtesy lamont_cranston, Flickr