Only about 40% of mobile phone users want their carriers to automatically block all calls from numbers not in their contacts list — but that number nearly doubles for calls highly suspected to be spam, according to a new survey from Transaction Network Services.
TNS said that its survey results indicate that “a majority of consumers are not yet ready to have their carrier or mobile device manufacturer automatically block all unwanted calls” — although there is widespread support for automatic blocking of high-risk calls. Nearly 80% of consumers TNS surveyed indicated that when calls were very likely to be spam/scam calls, they wanted carriers to either automatically block them or send them to voicemail. But, TNS noted, only about 40% of users wanted all numbers not in their contact list to be blocked, whether that happened through their carrier or their device manufacturer; most people wanted to retain some level of control over call blocking.
While 39% of all the people surveyed were open to automatic call blocking for numbers not in their contact lists, younger mobile users were more open to it: 48% of people between the ages of 25-34 were open to that type of automatic call blocking.
Generally, TNS found, a significant majority of those surveyed wanted to use voicemail as a screening tool for calls: 69% said that they would like lower-risk robocalls to be sent to their voicemail, so they could choose which messages to respond to.
However, TNS found that most consumers don’t know what options are available to them, such as applications, in order to identify likely robocalls and choose whether to respond. More than 70% of those surveyed said they would like to use an app from their wireless carrier to do so, but didn’t know that such apps already exist. TNS said that data point “suggests a need for more aggressive consumer education regarding the availability of this service/technology.
“Carriers are heeding the FCC call to thwart robocalls and proactively taking steps to protect consumers and businesses. However, as our survey indicates, more education is required to help consumers better understand their options,” said Bill Versen, chief product officer at TNS.
In July of this year, the FCC clarified rules governing the circumstances under which mobile network operators can block robocalls, allowing them to do so automatically rather than wait for customers to opt in.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said at the time that carriers could “immediately start offering call-blocking programs by default, based on any reasonable analytics designed to identify unwanted calls, so long as consumers are given the choice to opt out. There are many tools available right now that are effective in blocking unwanted calls before they reach consumers. But their deployment has been limited because they’re only being made available on an opt-in basis, and many of the consumers who would most benefit from these tools, such as elderly Americans, are unaware that they can opt in.”
Pai said that the FCC still wants consumers to be able to make informed decisions about staying in such a call-blocking program, so providers are being required to disclose what kind of calls might be blocked and the risks and offer an option for opting out — and for offering companies which make robocalls an avenue to complain that their calls aren’t getting through and for that to be resolved. After all, there are legitimate and wanted robocalls, such as notifications from school districts or doctors’ offices.
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