Frustrated and besieged consumers should be able to get the upper hand on so-called “robocalls” now that the Federal Communications Commission has adopted a rule giving telephone companies wider latitude in preventing these automated calls, including spam text messages.
Robocalls and spam texts continue to haunt consumers, despite the national “Do Not Call List” by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission.
The FCC said its decision “affirmed consumers’ rights to control the calls they receive,” while also clarifying that it was fully legal for telephone companies to offer robocall-blocking technology to customers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency receives more complaints about robocalls than about any other issue, fielding more than 215,000 such complaints in 2014.
The rule clarifies how the FCC interprets the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), closing loopholes and strengthening consumer protections already on the books.
The FCC: “The TCPA requires prior express consent for non-emergency autodialed, prerecorded, or artificial voice calls to wireless phone numbers, as well as for prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential wireline numbers.”
The FCC acted despite heavy lobbying from several industries on the pro-robocall and pro-spam side.
Specifically, the FCC affirmed that:
- Phone service providers can provide robocall-blocking technology to customers.
- Consumers can decide to opt out of robocalls at any time.
- The same protections and opt-out rights tied to telemarketing messages apply to text messages, and calls to wireless and landline phones.