The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a proposal on Thursday which seeks to protect consumers against telemarketers who they have put on the Do Not Call List with their phone services provider, but who continue to spam them with robocalls and automatic text messages. FCC tightens regulations for Do Not Call List thus enabling protection for users that are continuously spanned with phone calls from telemarketers.
Apparently, this was prompted by the fact that the FCC received tens of thousands of complains regarding robocalls yearly and by more than two dozen petitions brought to its attention regarding the matte.. Currently, if someone wishes to add a number/company to their Do Not Call list, the ban only applies to direct calls – automated robotic calls and text messages were never included in the regulation, providing a loophole for companies trying harassing and aggressive marketing tactics.
“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” is said in the statement.
The new rulings, which represent clarifications to the initial Telephone Consumer Protection Act, offer mobile and landline providers the option to block robocalls at their customer’s request by using blocking technologies and trying market-based solutions. It also adds a third party consent rule which blocks the possibility of someone being contacted just because they happen to be in an acquaintance’s phone list who consented to receive calls from a marketer.
The FCC press release also clarified the definition of an autodialer, stating that the term stands for any type of technology which has the capacity to call either random or sequential phone numbers. According to the statement, it will enforce the rule against pesky marketers who might try to bypass the lack of consumer request through changes in calling technology.
Text messages were also reclassified as calls from this standpoint and the FCC states that the same regulations will apply for both. Devices which can automatically send internet to phone text messages will also be considered autodialers from now on and require customer consent.
The FCC has also provided a specific exemption list from the rule regarding urgent circumstances. Amongst these, some type of financial alerts and healthcare announcements can be sent without consent from the customer, for example SMS alerts of possible frauds of the consumer’s bank accounts reminders of medication refills. However, financial and medical marketing or debt collecting calls will still require customer consent. The customers may also choose to stop receiving the said permitted calls at any time.
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