FCC Enhances Consumer Protections Against Unwanted Calls and Texts
A commission document released on June 18, 2015 discloses a proposal adoption by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to safeguard consumers against unwanted robocalls and spam texts.
The FCC declared consumers’ rights to control and manage calls they receive. The FCC also declared that telephone companies do not face any legal barriers in permitting consumers to select the use of robocall-blocking technology. The rulings stemmed from thousands of consumer complaints regarding robocalls to the FCC each month. Unwanted calls is the leading category of complains that the FCC receives with over 215,000 submitted in 2014.
The adoption of this proposal provides clarity to petitions and requests on how the FCC deciphers the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), eliminating loopholes and enhancing consumer protections already on the books. According to the FCC,
“The TCPA requires prior express consent for non-emergency autodialed, pre-recorded, or artificial voice calls to wireless phone numbers, as well as for pre-recorded telemarketing calls to residential wireline numbers. The rulings provide much needed clarity for summers and businesses.”
The FCC stated the following highlights and descriptions for consumers utilizing either landline or wireless phones:
Green Light for “Do Not Disturb” Technology
Service providers can provide robocall-blocking technologies to consumers and carry out market-based solutions can be utilized by consumers to bar unwanted robocalls.
Empowering Consumers to Say “Stop”
Consumers have the authority to repeal their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable manner at any time.
Reassigned Numbers Are Not Loopholes
Companies must end calling a reassigned phone number after one call.
A consumer who is among the contacts list of a colleague’s telephone does not give permission to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the colleague.
Confirming the Law’s Definition of Autodialer
“’Autodialer’ is defined in the Act as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers.” This definition provided by the FCC assures that robocallers cannot get around consumer consent requirements via alterations in calling technology design or by calling from a list of numbers.
Test Messages as Calls
FCC re-confirmed that consumers are empowered to the same consent-based protections for texts as voice calls to wireless numbers.
Internet-to-Phone Text Messages
A caller must have consumer permission before calling since equipment used to deliver Internet-to-phone text messages is an autodialer.
Limited and Specific Exemptions for Urgent Circumstances
As stated by the FCC,
“Free calls or texts to alert consumers to possible fraud on their bank accounts or remind them of important medication refills, among other financial alerts or healthcare messages, are allowed without prior consent, but other types of financial or healthcare calls, such as marketing or debt collection calls, are not allowed under these limited and very specific exemptions. Also, consumers have the right to opt out from these permitted calls and texts at any time. Today’s actions make no changes to the Do-Not-Call Registry, which restricts unwanted telemarketing calls, but are intended to build on the Registry’s effectiveness by closing loopholes and ensuring that consumers are fully protected from unwanted calls, including those not covered by the Registry.”