Unwanted calls and texts are the number one consumer complaint to the FCC. Home-bound elders are particularly vulnerable to aggressive telemarking scams and incessant robocalls. Despite intense pressure from industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to take action to maintain and advance consumer protections against unwanted robocalls, text messages and telemarketing calls to consumers’ cell phones. In its proposed ruling, the agency rejected requests made by the industry to allow robocalls and text messages to cell phones without consent.
The proposed ruling reiterates that the types of automated calling devices currently in use fall within the scope of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) prohibition against robodialing cell phones without consent. It rejects industry’s claim that it has the right to make robocalls to a cell phone number that has been reassigned to a new consumer based on the former owner’s consent. And it makes it clear that consumers have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls at any time and in any reasonable way, rejecting industry arguments that consent to receive robocalls, once given, is permanent and irrevocable.
NCLC, on behalf of its low-income clients, and NACA have opposed industry efforts to reduce consumer protections for cell phones, and over 190,000 consumers signed petitions against unwanted robocalls. The proposed ruling is scheduled for a vote by the full FCC Commission on June 18, 2015.
How Elders Can Protect Themselves from Telemarketers
To protect themselves from telemarketers, consumers should list their telephone numbers on the nationwide do-not-call list by calling 888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov/register/reg.aspx. Placing one’s name on the nationwide do-not-call list stops both telemarketing robocalls and telemarketing calls with a live caller.
A company can still make telemarketing calls to a consumer whose number is on the nationwide do-not-call list if the company has an “established business relationship” with the consumer-for example, if the consumer has bought goods or services from the company within the past 18 months. To stop receiving these calls, the consumer should tell the telemarketer to add the consumer’s number to its company-specific do-not-call list.
Consumers should report unwanted telemarketing calls to the FCC’s complaint line, 1-888-225-5322 or through www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx.
FCC fact sheet about the proposed ruling
NCLC and NACA letter and other materials to the FCC opposing efforts to weaken the TCPA