FCC Proposes Giving Consumers Right To Block Telemarketing Calls & Texts

You know what’s not awesome? Answering your phone only to be greeted by a prerecorded robocall telemarketing message. Even a decade after the establishment of the Do Not Call registry and rules banning certain types of robocalls, unwanted calls and messages still top the list of complaints to the FCC each year. Today, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler proposed closing some additional loopholes in order to cut down on these annoying intrusions.

The newest protection that could be available to consumers is the ability to tell their phone company — wireless or landline — that they revoke their consent to receive these calls.

The rule would also give telecom providers the green light to introduce ‘Do Not Disturb’ technology that consumers could use to stop unwanted robocalls.

With so many people ditching landlines in recent years, many of those phone numbers are being recirculated to new subscribers. Unfortunately, this has led to telemarketers calling that number trying to reach the former user, only to annoy the heck out of the new one.

Bank lobbyists had pushed for exemptions from facing violations for making these “wrong number” robocalls, but the new rules would clarify that telemarketers have only one chance to get that number wrong. Subsequent calls would be in violation.

The new rules would, however, allow for businesses to make emergency robocalls and texts to wireless users in very specific circumstances — fraud alerts from a bank, for example — but these calls could not be used for marketing or debt collection. In addition, wireless subscribers will be given the ability to opt out of receiving these types of urgent messages.

“Few things rankle consumers as much as unwanted calls and texts,” writes Wheeler, adding that rules need to adapt with the times. “The responsibility to protect consumers from robocalls that can be both costly and intrusive does not expire with changes in technology.”

The proposal will be voted on at the Commission’s Open Meeting on June 18.

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