The FCC is ready to rule on long-standing petitions seeking clarifications of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and related FCC regulations. On May 27, 2015, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a proposed regulatory ruling to fellow commissioners, which would address issues raised in more than 20 pending petitions. The fact sheet summarizing the chairman’s proposal foreshadows bad news for legitimate businesses using automatic telephone dialing technology.
The fact sheet lumps scammer calls like those from perky “Rachel” of the mysterious and ambiguous “Cardholder Services” with those from legitimate businesses. The fact sheet cites the 214,000 consumer complaints about robocalls. No breakdown is given as to how many of these complaints involved con artists and how many related to businesses calling, for example, to collect debt. The tone of the fact sheet provides no comfort. Its preamble states the plan is to “close loopholes and strengthen consumer protections.”
The FCC will vote on the new proposal during its Open Commission Meeting scheduled for June 18, 2015. In the meantime, companies using automatic telephone dialing technology should plan to take action to comply with whatever comes from the FCC. There will be no notice and comment period and whatever passes at the Open Commission Meeting will become effective immediately upon release.