ACA Encourages Senators to Review FTC Approach to Call Blocking and Labeling

In a letter to Senate subcommittee members, ACA explains that FTC should further consider how legitimate business calls are being blocked.

11/26/2018 3:30 PM

ACA Encourages Senators to Review FTC Approach to Call Blocking and Labeling

ACA International is encouraging the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security to examine the Federal Trade Commission’s approach to call blocking and labeling during an oversight hearing at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Subcommittee chairman U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will convene the hearing to examine the FTC’s priorities in promoting competition and consumer protection, the ongoing innovation hearings and how changes in technology impact the agency, and whether the FTC should have expanded authority with respect to privacy and data security, according to a news release.

FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons and commissioners Rohit Chopra, Noah Phillips, Rebecca Slaughter and Christine S. Wilson will testify.

In a letter to Moran and Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ACA International CEO Mark Neeb said “Some of the FTC efforts in this area should be commended concerning the focus on bad actors making those illegal and abusive calls. However, going forward it is imperative that the FTC further consider how legitimate calls are being impacted and develop protocols and/or a regulatory framework directed at call blocking and labeling apps to require differentiation between legal informational calls and illegal robocallers.”

ACA encourages the subcommittee to examine the harmful impact on important legitimate informational calls when regulators such as the FTC adopt sweeping regulations to stop illegal robocalls and scam calls.

“It is indisputable that illegal robocalls and scam calls harm consumers, and efforts by the FCC and the FTC to stop them should be applauded,” Neeb said. “However, throwing the baby out with the bathwater and ignoring that important legitimate informational calls are being swept up in this effort could be extremely harmful to consumers when they do not receive critical information about their financial health, safety, and perhaps for just everyday convenience.”

For example, a recent ACA International member survey shows 74 percent of respondents have discovered their calls are being mistakenly labeled as “scam” or “fraud.” And, 78 percent said they discovered blocked calls when trying to reach consumers.

ACA’s concerns are focused on mislabeled calls, erroneously blocked calls, how scammers evade many call blocking technologies and how call labeling technologies targeting legitimate debt collection activities also pose a risk of disclosing the existence of debts to third parties, which could be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Neeb also notes in the letter that consumers benefit when they can communicate with the accounts receivable management industry and other legitimate businesses and without an effective collection process, the economic viability of businesses and, by extension, the American economy and credit system in general, is threatened.

“Accordingly, Congress should encourage the FTC to draw clear distinctions between communications that are illegal and abusive and promote those that are highly legal and needed,” Neeb said.

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