The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking a more aggressive tack against telemarketers, including calling for telecom companies to provide consumers with more tools for blocking unwanted robocalls at no extra charge.
Currently, robocalls and telemarketing calls top the list of consumer complaints to the FCC, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (pictured above) wrote in a post on the agency’s blog Friday.
“The Commission is committed to protecting consumers from unwanted calls and giving them more control over the calls and texts they receive," he said. "We will tackle robocalls on as many fronts as possible, whether by implementing new rules, issuing tailored declaratory judgments, encouraging new pro-consumer innovation or urging the private sector to step up and stop this scourge.”
More Proactive Measures
The FCC already mandates a number of measures to deal with unwanted telemarketers. For example, since 2003 consumers have been able to block unwanted calls through the national Do Not Call registry, which requires telemarketers to have prior consent before contacting consumers by phone.
But in Friday's blog post, Wheeler indicated that the agency will begin acting more aggressively to stop unwanted robocalls, including direct appeals to telecom providers to offer their customers more ways to protect themselves. Wheeler said he has already sent letters to the CEOs of major wireless and landline phone companies pushing them to immediately begin offering call-blocking services to their customers at no additional cost.
The chairman said he has also sent letters to intermediary carriers reminding them of their responsibility to facilitate blocking technologies. “I am also calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective, as was done in the battle against spam years ago,” Wheeler said. The FCC has asked the companies to respond within 30 days with their plans to address the agency’s concerns.
In addition to Wheeler’s direct appeals to telecom companies, the chairman referred to a number of other actions the agency has taken in the last several years, including 13 formal enforcement actions since 2013. For instance, the FCC said it fined a Florida company almost $3 million for illegal calls promoting travel deals. The agency said it also shut down a major robocalling operation targeting wireless consumers in West Virginia.
“But consumers would rather not receive unwanted calls in the first place, making pro-active intervention preferable to after-the-fact enforcement,” Wheeler noted.
The chairman said the FCC will also continue to pursue regulatory solutions to unwanted robocalls, such as closing loopholes on telemarketing restrictions. Last week, the agency circulated a new proposal to limit the number and duration of robocalls designed to collect federal debts from consumers. The proposal will also give consumers the ability to stop such calls in the future.
“Whenever and wherever Congress and the courts give us the authority, the commission will push hard for strong, pro-consumer limits to robocalls and other unwanted calls,” Wheeler said.
R Frederick Bradshaw:
Posted: 2016-07-31 @ 8:11am PT
I have lost no less than 6 hours of my own paid minutes to these guys over the last year due to their calls, text and messages! Any way I can ask these boneheads for my money back....NO! Just stop calling me when I ask you to "Remove" me from your list! (BTW don't count on that happening.)
Posted: 2016-07-29 @ 10:44am PT
No more telemarketing, period. I am sick of all sales calls, political calls, and "charity" calls where 90% of the donation doesn't go to the charity. I get these every day, sometimes three-five in a row in one hour, and it disrupts everything.
I lose work time reporting to the Do Not Call list, which has not cut back on these sales calls. The only thing that did thin them out was when I started putting a cell number on forms for a phone I no longer use. They have my email and snail-mail addresses if they want to communicate. The rest can go out of business with their scams.
Posted: 2016-07-26 @ 8:12pm PT
These unwanted calls are one of the top banes of my personal and business existence...aww to have them end...I might just get something done!
Posted: 2016-07-26 @ 8:56am PT
It is about time. Robo calls are not wanted ever.