In spite of efforts to legislate and regulate them out of existence, unwanted prerecorded and/or auto-dialed robocalls are still dominate consumers’ complaints about their phone service. Today, our colleagues at Consumers Union delivered a petition — signed by hundreds of thousands of people who want the nation’s telecom providers to do something about robocalls — to the AT&T headquarters in Texas. [More]
How many unwanted pre-recorded and/or autodialed calls have you received so far this year? Judging by the numbers in one new report, we’re guessing it’s a lot. [More]
Last fall, with a government shutdown looming, Congress passed an emergency spending bill that also included a lovely little loophole giving the federal government the authority to make obnoxious, pre-recorded and/or autodialed debt-collection robocalls. Some lawmakers quickly introduced legislation intended to correct that anti-consumer move, but it’s been stuck in committee since. This week, attorneys general from two dozen states and District of Columbia called on the Senate to finally consider this legislation. [More]
When a company hires a telemarketing contractor, and that company makes telemarketing calls on your behalf, should you be held responsible for what that contractor does? This week, a trial in federal court began against Dish Network, where the feds and four state governments are seeking more than $24 billion in fines against the satellite TV company to resolve accusations that it made illegal calls. [More]
Warner Bros., BMG, Rightscorp Agree To Pay $450K For Using Robocalls To Hassle Alleged Music Pirates
Even when you’ve been accused of violating the copyright of a major music publishers, you still have the right to not be harassed by unsolicited pre-recorded calls demanding payment for those supposed violations. That’s why Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and other defendants have agreed to pay out $450,000 to thousands of alleged music pirates. [More]
There’s perhaps nothing more annoying than rushing to answer a ringing phone than to find a robot on the other end. But when that robocall is coming in at three in the morning? That’s an annoyance 10,000 senior citizens went through when a Massachusetts health insurer said it accidentally robocalled customers between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. this week. [More]
Texting isn’t just the purview of teenagers. Bulk texting is a huge business. Sometimes they’re scam spam in about the same category of usefulness as emails from a wealthy Nigerian prince who doesn’t exist, granted, but sometimes they’re useful blasts from businesses or public entities that let a whole bunch of people get useful information quickly in a low-bandwidth way. But what they aren’t, quite yet, is clearly regulated. A case moving through the FCC right now, however, may change that.
Even in an age when everyone has Caller ID on their cellphones and landlines, when more than 200 million numbers are listed on the national Do Not Call Registry, our phones are still inundated with unwanted auto-dialed and prerecorded calls. And though state and federal regulators regularly shut down illegal telemarketing operations, it can seem like a game of Whac-A-Mole, with new robocallers popping up to replace the old ones. [More]
Last week, the president signed an emergency budget bill that kept the government from shutting down, but which also quietly exempted federal agencies from an important consumer protection against automated debt-collection robocalls. A new piece of legislation hopes to turn back the clock on that mistake by closing that recently opened loophole. [More]
Right now, the U.S. Senate is going through process of discussing the bipartisan budget proposal intended to prevent another federal shutdown. It’s a bill that, by most accounts, is destined to pass without removal of a provision that gives the federal government — and only the federal government — the permission to place unwanted, automated robocalls for the purposes of debt collection without the recipient’s permission. But some lawmakers are pledging to do something after the budget bill has passed. [More]
In response to the news that the bipartisan budget deal currently before Congress includes a loophole that would allow the federal government to make debt-collection robocalls, some might say “Well, if it helps the government get back some of the money it’s due, then maybe it’s a necessary evil.” But the government’s own analysis of the budget proposal currently shows this clause as having no measurable impact on our federal finances. [More]
Federal law currently prohibits most non-emergency robocalls to cellphones unless the recipient has given their prior express consent to receive auto-dialed calls. But amid the battle over the federal budget, someone has slipped in some language to the budget bill currently before Congress that would exempt government debt collectors from this law. [More]
The FCC has been on a bit of a crusade this year to try and curb the scourge of robocalls, one of consumers’ biggest complaints. To that end, they’re now going to share a new tool to help build weapons for that fight: consumers’ complaints.
Robocalls suck. They have continued to suck for a very long time. Everyone hates them. The FCC has been trying to make them go away for many months now, and to that end they held a workshop today in Washington, DC bringing together regulators, consumer advocates, and industry executives to talk about what everyone can do to make these lousy, often-fraudulent annoyances go away.
As we recently pointed out with the PayPal terms of service, it’s against the law for a company to require that its customers to accept spam text messages and pre-recorded, auto-dialed robocalls. Someone should have forwarded that message on to Lyft and First National Bank. The FCC has cited both companies for forcing their customers to agree to unwanted marketing messages, in violation of federal law. [More]
Consumers hate getting endless robocalls on their landlines and cell phones, and with good reason: they’re incredibly annoying. But they exist for a reason, too: legitimate businesses and scammers alike both find that, to some degree, they work. So when the FCC proposes a rule to let consumers cut back on the annoyance in their lives, businesses are not necessarily thrilled.