FCC Trying To Minimize Annoyances From New Robocall Debt Collection Loophole

Jenn and Tony Bot

Last fall, a rider to a must-pass federal budget bill kicked down the barricade that has prevented government debt collectors from annoying hundreds of millions of consumers with auto-dialed, pre-recorded robocalls. Lawmakers hate the bill, but they won’t consider any legislation to close the loophole. The White House’s own analysis of the loophole shows that it won’t really bring in any more money, and could actually be a revenue loser, but the administration isn’t doing anything to roll back the changes. Attorneys general hate it too, but they enforce laws instead of writing them. With an August deadline looming, the Federal Communications Commission has no choice but to move forward with making the loophole as palatable as possible. [More]

“ROBOCOP Act” Would Force Phone Companies To Do Something About Robocalls

“ROBOCOP Act” Would Force Phone Companies To Do Something About Robocalls

As we’ve shown before, wireless and landline phone companies can do something to provide customers with free and easy-to-use tools to block unwanted automated calls — they just aren’t doing it, even when hundreds of thousands of consumers explicitly ask them to. A new piece of legislation introduced today hopes to compel the telecom providers to finally make it easier for customers to just say no to robocalls. [More]

Student Loan Companies Tell Congress: Debt-Collection Robocalls Are In Borrowers’ Best Interest

(thisisbossi)

Show me someone who supports robocalls, and I’ll show you someone that has very few friends. Which is why it’s baffling that the Senate has yet to act on a bill introduced last fall that would close a loophole allowing the government to make debt-collection robocalls. But you know who does support robocalls? The student loan companies that are currently trying to convince Congress that these invasive annoyances are really for our benefit. [More]

(alexkerhead)

Lawmakers Renew Push To Curb Unwanted Robocalls

In the last few days, legislators in both the House and Senate have once again pushed the issue of nuisance pre-recorded, auto-dialed robocalls back into the spotlight — urging telecom providers to give customers more tools for blocking these calls, and trying to roll back the government’s ability to abuse robocalls for its own debt-collection purposes. [More]

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Consumers Call On AT&T To Help End Robocalls

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Consumers Call On AT&T To Help End Robocalls

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]

Report: 858 Robocalls Placed Every Second, Most Of Them From Debt Collectors

Report: 858 Robocalls Placed Every Second, Most Of Them From Debt Collectors

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]

25 Attorneys General Agree: Close Government’s Robocall Debt-Collection Loophole

25 Attorneys General Agree: Close Government’s Robocall Debt-Collection Loophole

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]

(Brady O'Brien)

Dish Network Could Pay $24B In Fines For Millions Of Illegal Telemarketing Calls

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]

TWC has updated its VoiceZone site to include the option of turning Nomorobo on or off with a click.

Time Warner Cable Integrates Robocall-Blocker Into Telephone Service

While traditional phone companies have been reluctant to integrate available call-blocking technology to help consumers avoid unwanted “robocalls,” some six million Time Warner Cable customers will now be able to turn on a free feature that can cut down on these telephonic annoyances. [More]

Jenn and Tony Bot

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]

Health Insurer Apologizes For Robocalling Senior Citizens In The Wee Hours Of The Morning

Health Insurer Apologizes For Robocalling Senior Citizens In The Wee Hours Of The Morning

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]

CenturyLink customers joined Consumers Union's End Robocalls team this morning to deliver a petition to the CL offices in Phoenix.

More Than 500,000 People Ask CenturyLink To Help End Robocalls

Even though the FCC has said that landline operators can offer robocall-blocking technology to their customers, many of them have so far chosen to not do so. That’s why our colleagues at Consumers Union hand-delivered a petition with more than 500,000 signatures to CenturyLink this morning, hoping to drive home how fed-up consumers are with these unwanted interruptions. [More]

AT&T, Verizon Tell FCC That They Should Be Able To Block Texts When They Want To, For Your Own Good

AT&T, Verizon Tell FCC That They Should Be Able To Block Texts When They Want To, For Your Own Good

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.

[More]

(alexkerhead)

Phone Companies Can Filter Out Robocalls, They Just Aren’t Doing It

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]

Senators Introduce Bill To Close New Robocall Debt-Collection Loophole

Senators Introduce Bill To Close New Robocall Debt-Collection Loophole

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]

Senators Say They Will Try To Reverse Robocall Exemption For Federal Debt Collectors

Senators Say They Will Try To Reverse Robocall Exemption For Federal Debt Collectors

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]

Government’s Own Budget Analysis Shows That Allowing Debt Collection Robocalls Is Pointless

See all those stars on this report from the Congressional Budget Office? Those indicate that the robocall clause in the bipartisan budget proposal will have no real effect on our government's finances.

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 Budget Proposal Would Allow Government To Robocall Your Cellphone Over Debts

Federal Budget Proposal Would Allow Government To Robocall Your Cellphone Over Debts

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]