Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is threatening major wireless carriers with "regulatory intervention" if they don't take action to stem robocalls.

According to a study referenced in a new FCC report, nearly half the calls made to US cell phones in 2019 will be spam.

On "America's Newsroom" Friday, Pai said that in addition to imposing major fines on scammers, his agency has demanded that the phone industry step up and adopt robust caller ID authentication, which he described as "a digital fingerprint for every single phone."

"It's very easy to spoof a phone number. Even if you're calling from abroad, you can make it look like you have the same area code and the same first three numbers as somebody who's living in a small town in Iowa," Pai explained, revealing that he doesn't answer his phone unless he already has the number saved.


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Host Sandra Smith noted that the FCC is threatening corporate regulation if there is no change, which she said is unusual under a Republican administration.

"This is our top consumer protection priority, this is something that I hear about all the time, including from members of my own family," Pai said. "And the law is pretty clear here. The FCC does have the authority to take action to protect consumers, to make sure that these robocalls aren't bombarding American consumers."

He said in addition to generating extensive fraud and waste, it's also just a hassle for millions of Americans.

He said many of the major phone companies are stepping up to the technological challenge and have agreed to meet his deadline of the end of 2019.

"And we hope that the others will catch up, because time is not on the side of the American consumer who is sick and tired of getting calls all throughout the day."

Watch the "America's Newsroom" interview above.


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