WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Regulators in Washington are holding out for the possibility of robocall relief.

The Federal Communications Commission is clearing the way for phone companies to block robocalls, the same way email providers block spam, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.

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They’re inconvenient and annoying, and often they are scams.

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At Total Wireless in White Plains many customers ask for help cutting down on robocalls.

When asked about apps that can be downloaded to help with the problem, employee Nathan Ababi said, “They do have apps. We go to the app store and figure out what app is the best.”

There are many apps, but soon they may be obsolete.

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Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, wants carriers to start blocking robocalls automatically, rather than asking consumers to install an app or subscribe to an optional service.

“That would be a lot easier. Hopefully it would work,” Ababi said.

“I think it’s fine because the consumer’s kind of dumb sometimes,” smartphone user Don Rivera said. “Older people, I don’t think they know how to block calls on their phone, and even me, I’m tech savvy. I work in tech and it’s still annoying for me, so …”

The FCC chair would allow carriers to charge for blocking robocalls, but he’s strongly encouraging them not to charge, Aiello reported.

Experts say automatic robocall blocking would reduce but not eliminate the problem, just as your email spam filter catches some but not all unwanted messages.

To make sure carriers get the message the FCC chair is raising the threat of regulatory action, unless they take steps necessary to protect consumers.

The number of robocalls has grown dramatically, with almost 50 billion in 2018.

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The FCC will vote on blocking next month.