Update: Concerns for the Accounts Receivable Management Industry on FCC Call Blocking and Labeling Efforts

ACA and industry groups urge the FCC to seek public comment on declaratory ruling and order that would result in erroneous blocking of lawful calls.

5/31/2019 1:00 PM

Update: Concerns for the Accounts Receivable Management Industry on FCC Call Blocking and Labeling Efforts

As the Federal Communications Commission’s June 6 vote on its draft declaratory ruling and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on “Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls” approaches, ACA International and several industry groups are continuing efforts to encourage the FCC to open public comment on the proposal and ultimately delay its decision.

In May, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a proposed declaratory ruling that would allow voice service providers to block calls using analytics that sweep in many legal calls. The proposed declaratory ruling would also require consumers to opt out of blocking services instead of opt in.

“Despite the FCC’s well-intentioned efforts to target bad actors, the draft declaratory ruling is facially overbroad in its attempt to meet the laudable objective of stopping illegal robocalls,” Leah Dempsey, ACA’s vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy, said in a May 30 letter and ex parte filing expressing substantive and legal concerns with the proposal.

“In the draft declaratory ruling, the commission has somehow arrived at the point where it now appears to find it appropriate to mislabel lawful calls as scam or fraud; allow the blocking of legitimate and needed calls with no notice of the blocking, no required recourse, and no required correction; and impugn any call that is simply “unwanted.” Among countless other flaws in this approach, this ignores a congressional directive from as recently as this month in the Senate report accompanying the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (the TRACED Act),” Dempsey said.

ACA strongly supports the FCC’s efforts to target the serious problem of illegal and fraudulent robocalls, but the draft declaratory ruling threatens lawful calls from ACA’s members, Dempsey notes in the letter. It also directly conflicts with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ongoing rulemaking efforts, which are open for public comment.

ACA members are also invited to share their feedback on the proposed rule in a member survey open through Wednesday, June 12.

Consumers often need the information that ACA members provide them to maintain their financial health. Open communication can often lead to the most favorable outcome for consumers. While some of these calls may be “unwanted” by some consumers, they are legal and already heavily regulated. They also may be critical to help a consumer maintain their financial health and continue to access credit and services.

To further this message, ACA also joined several industry groups in a letter to Pai on the draft declaratory ruling’s potential impact on a variety of calls consumers want and need.

“Public safety alerts, fraud alerts, data security breach notifications, product recall notices, health care and prescription reminders, and power outage updates all could be inadvertently blocked under the draft declaratory order, among other time-sensitive calls. Therefore, we urge the commission to seek public comment on the draft declaratory ruling to avoid such unintended consequences,” the letter from the American Bankers Association, American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, American Financial Services Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions and National Retail Federation states.

Read the complete letters on ACA’s TCPA Regulatory Advocacy website.

The FCC will be considering the FNPRM at its open meeting on June, 6, 2019.

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