ACA to FCC: Open Lines of Communication for Legitimate Business Calls

As call blocking technologies expand, ACA International stresses the problems arbitrary blocking and labeling can cause for legitimate businesses.

8/14/2018 11:30 AM

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ACA to FCC: Open Lines of Communication for Legitimate Business Calls

“Consumers are less likely to answer their phone, they think that our business is not legitimate, and has caused complaints to regulators and our clients.”

“The consumers as well as our agency have been impacted. Some have shared they wished they had taken the call but honestly thought it was spam. As a result, the account went unresolved which did not help the consumer.”

These are just two comments from ACA International members in the accounts receivable management industry describing the impact blocking legitimate calls can have for consumers.

ACA International sought feedback from its members as part of a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Government Affairs Request for Input for the Report on Robocalling issued in June.

“Service providers in the marketplace should not be permitted to use technologies that enable third parties to unilaterally determine what calls consumers should receive in place of federal laws and regulations that already govern communications with consumers,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice president and senior counsel, federal advocacy, in the comment letter to the FCC. “The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission joint efforts in this area concerning ‘robocalls’ have been laudable for the focus on bad actors making illegal calls. Additionally, we support efforts to compile a report on robocalling and the spirit of the November 2017 Call Blocking Order. However, both the FTC and FCC must do a better job going forward differentiating between highly legal informational calls and illegal robocalls, and stop using one-size-fits-all rhetoric punishing all callers seeking to communicate with consumers. Sweeping all communications into the category of robocalls is misleading to consumers and unfairly lumps legal and consumer friendly communications in with illegal scam calls.”

As multiple regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and U.S. Department of the Treasury, have recently recognized that there are significant benefits to consumers when they can communicate with accounts receivable management industry professionals, it is important that going forward, the FCC consider a regulatory regime and framework to enable callers to mitigate mislabeling or erroneous blocking.

Given this, ACA International is encouraged by the Aug. 10 request for comment from the FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau that “seeks to refresh the record on advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls.”

The comment request asks key questions to further define illegal calls from bad actors and those from legitimate businesses in communication with consumers included in the FCC’s March 2017 Call Blocking Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, which began as a review of provider-initiated call blocking.

For example:

  • Are there particular criteria that help differentiate lawful, high-volume callers from illegal callers?
  • How can providers identify calls as coming from the same caller?
  • Do providers currently use these or other criteria to analyze calls and take action on them?

“The record in response to the Call Blocking NPRM and NOI did not provide specific criteria. We acknowledge commenter concerns that enshrining blocking criteria in the commission’s rules would enable illegal callers to circumvent them. However, specific, enforceable criteria might be necessary to prevent improper blocking, i.e., for any reason other than to stop illegal calls,” the Aug. 10 request for comment states. “Our goal in seeking additional comment is to identify specific, enforceable criteria for targeting illegal calls that cannot be abused while ensuring providers have sufficient flexibility available to adapt to dynamic calling patterns.”

“While ACA is encouraged by the additional request for comment and clarification on methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls, we remain very concerned that legal informational calls are being blocked, mislabeled, or otherwise impeded on a regular basis without any legal justification,” Dempsey said.

ACA’s comments to the FCC also note:

  • The FCC should also be seeking input on what providers and carriers are doing to ensure that legal calls are not being unfairly targeted.
  • It is essential that the FCC address how a caller should be notified of a blocked call and steps a caller can take to immediately rectify when a legitimate call is erroneously blocked or labeled incorrectly as spam.
  • The worst actors and many illegal robocallers have found ways around call blocking technologies and continue to plague consumers with scam and other fraudulent calls. Thus, the main focus of the FTC and FCC should be on narrowly targeting these illegal actors through enforcement actions and appropriately tailored technological solutions.

Read the complete comment letter here.

Related Content from ACA International:

Robocall Discussion Continues: FCC Bureau Seeks Comment for Joint Report with FTC

ACA International Submits Comments Urging the FCC to Require Call Blocking Mitigation Mechanisms


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

ACA to FCC: Open Lines of Communication for Legitimate Business Calls

“Consumers are less likely to answer their phone, they think that our business is not legitimate, and has caused complaints to regulators and our clients.”

“The consumers as well as our agency have been impacted. Some have shared they wished they had taken the call but honestly thought it was spam. As a result, the account went unresolved which did not help the consumer.”

These are just two comments from ACA International members in the accounts receivable management industry describing the impact blocking legitimate calls can have for consumers.

ACA International sought feedback from its members as part of a response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Government Affairs Request for Input for the Report on Robocalling issued in June.

“Service providers in the marketplace should not be permitted to use technologies that enable third parties to unilaterally determine what calls consumers should receive in place of federal laws and regulations that already govern communications with consumers,” said Leah Dempsey, ACA International’s vice president and senior counsel, federal advocacy, in the comment letter to the FCC. “The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission joint efforts in this area concerning ‘robocalls’ have been laudable for the focus on bad actors making illegal calls. Additionally, we support efforts to compile a report on robocalling and the spirit of the November 2017 Call Blocking Order. However, both the FTC and FCC must do a better job going forward differentiating between highly legal informational calls and illegal robocalls, and stop using one-size-fits-all rhetoric punishing all callers seeking to communicate with consumers. Sweeping all communications into the category of robocalls is misleading to consumers and unfairly lumps legal and consumer friendly communications in with illegal scam calls.”

As multiple regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and U.S. Department of the Treasury, have recently recognized that there are significant benefits to consumers when they can communicate with accounts receivable management industry professionals, it is important that going forward, the FCC consider a regulatory regime and framework to enable callers to mitigate mislabeling or erroneous blocking.

Given this, ACA International is encouraged by the Aug. 10 request for comment from the FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau that “seeks to refresh the record on advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls.”

The comment request asks key questions to further define illegal calls from bad actors and those from legitimate businesses in communication with consumers included in the FCC’s March 2017 Call Blocking Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, which began as a review of provider-initiated call blocking.

For example:

  • Are there particular criteria that help differentiate lawful, high-volume callers from illegal callers?
  • How can providers identify calls as coming from the same caller?
  • Do providers currently use these or other criteria to analyze calls and take action on them?

“The record in response to the Call Blocking NPRM and NOI did not provide specific criteria. We acknowledge commenter concerns that enshrining blocking criteria in the commission’s rules would enable illegal callers to circumvent them. However, specific, enforceable criteria might be necessary to prevent improper blocking, i.e., for any reason other than to stop illegal calls,” the Aug. 10 request for comment states. “Our goal in seeking additional comment is to identify specific, enforceable criteria for targeting illegal calls that cannot be abused while ensuring providers have sufficient flexibility available to adapt to dynamic calling patterns.”

“While ACA is encouraged by the additional request for comment and clarification on methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls, we remain very concerned that legal informational calls are being blocked, mislabeled, or otherwise impeded on a regular basis without any legal justification,” Dempsey said.

ACA’s comments to the FCC also note:

  • The FCC should also be seeking input on what providers and carriers are doing to ensure that legal calls are not being unfairly targeted.
  • It is essential that the FCC address how a caller should be notified of a blocked call and steps a caller can take to immediately rectify when a legitimate call is erroneously blocked or labeled incorrectly as spam.
  • The worst actors and many illegal robocallers have found ways around call blocking technologies and continue to plague consumers with scam and other fraudulent calls. Thus, the main focus of the FTC and FCC should be on narrowly targeting these illegal actors through enforcement actions and appropriately tailored technological solutions.

Read the complete comment letter here.

Related Content from ACA International:

Robocall Discussion Continues: FCC Bureau Seeks Comment for Joint Report with FTC

ACA International Submits Comments Urging the FCC to Require Call Blocking Mitigation Mechanisms


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

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